A Japanese F-15 jet. -AFP
Japan is preparing to acquire precision air-launched missiles that for the first time would give it the capability to strike North Korean missile sites, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Japan plans to put money aside in its next defense budget starting April to study whether its F-15 fighters could launch longer-range missiles including Lockheed Martin Corp's extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER), which can hit targets 1,000km away, said one the sources with knowledge of the plan.
"There is a global trend for using longer range missiles and it is only natural that Japan would want to consider them," he said.
The sources asked to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to talk to media. Japan is also interested in buying the 500 km-range Joint Strike Missile designed by Norway's Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace to be carried by the F-35 stealth fighter, Fuji Television reported earlier.
Neither of those two items is included in a 5.26 trillion yen (US$46.76 billion) budget request already submitted by Japan's Ministry of Defense, however additional funds would be made available to evaluate the purchase of these missiles, the sources said.
The change suggests that the growing threat posed by North Korean ballistic missiles has given proponents of a strike capability the upper hand in military planning.
Restrictions on strike weapons imposed by its war-renouncing constitution means Japan's missile force is composed of anti-aircraft and anti-ship munitions with ranges of less than 300km.
Leave Your Comments