Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Japan approves JASSM-ER missile purchase for its F-15J jets

Japan’s Ministry of Defense approved the acquisition of the Lockheed Martin AGM-158B JASSM-ER (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range) on July 4, 2024.

According to The Aviationist, this move follows a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) package cleared by the U.S. State Department on August 28, 2023. Under this program, Tokyo will procure 50 JASSM-ER missiles for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) F-15J jets, significantly boosting its long-range strike capabilities.

The MoD aims to “drastically strengthen its stand-off defense capability,” enabling Japan to conduct attacks from beyond the reach of adversary anti-aircraft missiles. This comes amid heightened tensions between the US-Japan-Taiwan alliance and the China-Russia-North Korea bloc over the past two years. The $104 million FMS package also includes anti-jam global positioning systems, missile containers, and training missiles.

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“Upgraded F-15s equipped with this missile will have improved electronic warfare capabilities and an increased number of missiles,” according to a report. “Further upgrades will be carried out on 68 aircraft that have already been modernized.”

These electronic warfare upgrades refer to a $475 million contract signed by Boeing in September 2023, as part of the F-15 Japan Super Interceptor Program. This includes integrating the EPAWSS (Eagle Passive Warning Survivability System) on Mitsubishi-built F-15Js, enhancing the jets’ ability to detect and counter ground and airborne threats while improving situational awareness.

The combination of the JASSM-ER with allied electronic, optical, radar, and satellite surveillance will allow JASDF’s F-15Js to undertake stand-off strikes in rapidly evolving battlefield situations, targeting time-sensitive threats effectively.

The JASSM is a low observable (LO) missile, deploying its folded wings after being released from the aircraft. It can follow pre-set routes and change directions to evade enemy air defense missiles.

The JASSM has become a cornerstone of allied air-launched stand-off weaponry for land strikes. Recently, Poland and Finland joined the list of nations acquiring the Extended Range variant. On May 28, 2024, Poland signed a $735 million contract to procure 821 JASSM-ER missiles and expressed interest in the JASSM-XR. Finland announced the acquisition of AGM-158B JASSM-ERs on May 31, aiming to integrate them on the F-35As expected to be delivered by 2026. Helsinki already uses the AGM-158A JASSM on its FA-18C/D Hornets.

The JASSM is also integral to the USAF’s Rapid Dragon project, which envisions deploying the missiles from C-130J Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft using disposable pallets. This innovative method was tested during a western Pacific exercise in July 2023. In mid-June, the USAF’s 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB held exercise Bayou Warrior, which included loading live JASSMs onto B-52H Stratofortress bombers as part of a readiness exercise.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Daisuke Sato
Daisuke Sato
Daisuke Sato is defense reporter, covering the Asia-Pacific defense industrial base, defense markets and all related issues. He has covered the US and Japan bilateral exercises for several years.

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