Japan to Remodel Type-03 Surface-to-Air Missiles to Detect Hypersonic Weapons

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 01:57 PM, November 8, 2022
  • 1057
Japan to Remodel Type-03 Surface-to-Air Missiles to Detect Hypersonic Weapons
Type-03 guided missile system @U.S. Army

Japan wants to remodel the Type-03 intermediate-range guided missile so they could help intercept hypersonic glide weapons.

The government will mention the project in the National Security Strategy that is expected to be revised by year-end. It plans to start mass production of the remodeled missiles around 2029, sources told The Japan Times.

It is difficult for Japan with its current missile defense capability to intercept hypersonic glide weapons, which are designed to travel at more than five times the speed of sound on irregular trajectories, according to a senior Self-Defense Forces official.

Currently, Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors are tasked with hitting incoming missiles in the outer atmosphere. If they fail to intercept them, the Air Self-Defense Force’s ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors will counter the attack in the lower tier.

Originally designed to destroy airplanes, Type-03 missiles were first remodeled in 2017 to deal with hostile cruise flying at low altitudes as well as fast-moving incoming projectiles.

In the planned remodeling, the abilities of the Type-03 missiles will be improved to predict the flight path of hypersonic weapons and track them as well as to detect them by radar, the source added. But it remains uncertain whether the remodeled missiles will allow Japan to counter hypersonic weapons, the source said, as the race among major military powers to develop hypersonic weapons has been intensifying and technologies are expected to continue to advance.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his U.S. counterpart, Lloyd Austin, agreed when they met at the Pentagon in September that their nations will undertake joint technological research into hypersonic weapons.

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