Nikkei Asia Review reported that Japan will team with the U.K. to develop a new air-to-air missile for use on Japan’s F-35A stealth multirole fighters.
The planned weapon will incorporate a powerful radar system developed by Mitsubishi Electric into European manufacturer MBDA’s Meteor missile, combining long range and high accuracy. A prototype will be built at an MBDA plant starting in fiscal 2018. Live-fire testing in the U.K. is slated to begin as early as fiscal 2023, at which point Japan and the U.K. will decide whether to put the weapon into mass production.
According to the MBDA, Meteor is the next generation of Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) system designed to revolutionise air-to-air combat in the 21st Century.
Guided by an advanced active radar seeker, Meteor provides all weather capability to engage a wide variety of targets from agile fast jets to small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and cruise missiles. It is designed to meet the most stringent of requirements and is capable of operating in the most severe of clutter and countermeasure environments.
Deployment of new missiles is expected in the late 2020s. The missile likely will become equipment on the F-35 stealth fighter to be used by Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force, and it could be used to defend far-flung Japanese territories such as the Senkaku Islands, which China claims as the Diaoyu. Exports to countries such as Germany and France will be considered as well.