Japan’s Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft are slated to be equipped with supersonic missiles to keep pace with what Tokyo says is a growing threat posed by the Chinese navy, according to local media reports.
“The introduction of the new missile is aimed at keeping the Chinese navy–which has been taking high handed action in the East China Sea and other places–in check,” the Yomiuri Shimbun reported July 19.
The XASM-3 missile is still under development but military planners have requested considerable financial resources to buy, and build, hundreds of them in fiscal year 2018. The anti-ship missile will be the first hypersonic missile made by the island nation, the Yomiuri Shimbun added. Each F-2 will carry two of the new anti-ship missiles.
The missile buy demonstrates the need for increased capacity and capability to neutralize threats posed by China’s fast-growing navy. In addition to the Liaoning aircraft carrier, China completed its first domestically produced aircraft carrier earlier this year.
In addition to bolstering the firepower of its F-2s, Japan is eyeing a major acquisition of joint strike missiles for the fleet of F-35 fighters Tokyo has bought or agreed to buy from Lockheed Martin. Under the Foreign Military Sales program, Washington authorized the sale of 42 F-35As to Japan. In June, Tokyo officials unveiled the first F-35A made in a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant.
Following US President Donald Trump’s latest jab at Beijing – “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he “fully agreed” with Trump’s China comment.
The two world leaders talked for 50 minutes on Sunday. Abe said the “in-depth” conversation resulted in a resolution to take “concrete steps to do our utmost in ensuring the public’s safety” while adding that he was “very disappointed” in Beijing’s response to North Korea’s latest missile test.