Mass Production of Type 12 Missiles in Japan: response to the Chinese Threat

2023 marks the start of a production series of Japan’s Type 12 missiles, including hypersonic ballistic missiles. Japan’s Defense Ministry has confirmed a multi-billion dollar contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to deal with regional challenges, especially the growing Chinese threat.

The Type 12 missile and its modernization

The basic Type 12 missile has a range of 200 km, but its modernization has increased this range considerably. Although how much is not specified, previous estimates indicate that it could be between 900 and 1,200 km.

The missile’s design has also been modified, resembling the United States ‘ AGM-158 JASSM. Variants of Type 12 include anti-ship, land-based, and aviation. Given growing concerns about China and its outlying islands, the Japanese government has accelerated the missile’s development.

Testing and production of Type 12

Due to Japan’s geographical limitations, the country cannot conduct Type 12 tests on its territory. Consequently, Tokyo has agreed with Washington to carry out the tests on US soil. The production volume of the missiles by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is kept secret.

Other developments in the Japanese defense

In parallel with the Type 12, Japan will start production of hypersonic ballistic missiles. These missiles will follow a concept of difficult interception, high-altitude warhead separation, and chaotic motion. The goal is to achieve a range of 1,000 km.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has also been tasked with developing anti-ship guided missiles to be launched from submarines. This project is still in its early stages, and production is expected in 2027.

Tomahawk Missile Procurement

In addition to internal developments, Japan plans to purchase 400 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles with a range of 1,600 km. Production of these missiles has already started, and full delivery is expected to take place by the end of 2026.

A new era in Japanese defense

In short, Japan is significantly strengthening its defense capabilities by developing and acquiring advanced missiles such as the Type 12 and hypersonic ballistic missiles. These actions reflect growing concern about regional threats and the need to protect their islands and interests.