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Japanese F-35s to be equipped with air-to-surface missiles

Monday’s Yomiuri gave top play to a GOJ idea of mounting air-to-surface missiles on ASDF F-35s as a measure to strengthen remote island defense, noting that the necessary funding will be secured in the FY2018 budget. By equipping the stealth fighters with joint strike missiles (JSM) that can hit targets up to 300 km away, the GOJ is looking into the possible acquisition of the ability to strike enemy bases to deal with North Korea’s relentless pursuit of ballistic missiles. In a separate article, the daily said the proposed introduction of JSMs will expedite debate on the need to allow the SDF to possess enemy base strike capabilities, which will be extremely costly. Noting that the U.S. has been cautious about Japan acquiring such capabilities due to the security implications for the region, the paper said the GOJ is hoping to deepen discussion on the topic when the two nations’ foreign and defense ministers meet in Washington on July 14. 

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