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Japanese MoD Moves Closer to Operationalization of ASM-3 Anti-Ship Missile

Local media reports and official documentation suggest that the Defense Ministry’s Acquisition and Technology Logistics Agency (ATLA) is making steady progress on operationalizing a new supersonic anti-ship missile, the ASM-3 (formerly known as the XASM-3). As Navy Recognition has previously reported, MOD plans to begin mass production of the weapon in 2018 after having completed development at the end of 2017.


By Ben Rimland

Local media reports
and official documentation suggest that the Defense Ministry’s Acquisition and Technology Logistics Agency (ATLA) is making steady progress on operationalizing a new supersonic anti-ship missile, the ASM-3 (formerly known as the XASM-3). As Navy Recognition has previously reported, Japan's Ministry of Defense (MOD) plans to begin mass production of the weapon in 2018 after having completed development at the end of 2017.


Japanese MoD Moves Closer to Operationalization of ASM 3 Anti Ship Missile 1 A “concept of use” infographic published by Japanese MOD (Ben Rimland/Navy Recognition translation)


A “concept of use” infographic published by MOD provides a look at how the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces (JASDF) may employ the weapon in a contingency. The missile can take either a direct course of travel when launched low near the edge of the targeted vessel’s radar range, or instead it may take a “pop-up” profile, climbing high from a low angle of launch or instead staying at an already high altitude from an elevated attack approach. Survivability of the firing F-2 is of chief concern in either attack scenario. Per the infographic, a direct and low attack allows the F-2 to fly under the radar, while the “pop-up” profile may put the F-2 within radar detection range, but beyond the scope of the targeted ship’s SAMs.


Japanese MoD Moves Closer to Operationalization of ASM 3 Anti Ship Missile 2Two XASM-3 missiles fitted on a Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 Fighter during recent tests (May 2017). Picture via twitter user @MR2AW11SP


A recent report in the Mainichi Shimbun provides further detail on the history of the weapon’s development and ATLA’s plans for further utilizing the guidance and propulsion technology of the ASM-3. The weapon’s development period ran from 2003 to 2017, during which a total of 15 test launches proved the design’s viability. Research and development costs totalled 39 billion yen, approximately $367 million. MOD is also planning on employing the ramjet propulsion system and inertial/composite guidance technology of the ASM-3 to design a land-based, truck mounted variant, as well as a ship-based version with longer range (ed. note: The XSSM which Navy Recognition covered previously).

Ben Rimland is an independent researcher on Asia-Pacific security issues. His academic research pertains to Japanese defense policy and American security policy in Asia. He can be found on twitter at @JPNsecuritywonk


Video showing Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 Fighter test launching a XASM-3 missile. ATLA video.


About ASM-3 supersonic anti-ship missile
Designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), ASM-3 is capable of reaching Mach 3 speeds thanks to its ramjet engine fed by two air intakes (in a similar fashion to MBDA's Meteor air to air missile or to the French ASMP-A air-launched tactical nuclear missile).

ASM-3 basic specifications:
Full length: 6000 mm
Full width: 950 mm
Missile body diameter: 350 mm
Maximum speed: Mach 3 or more
Firing range: 80nm (about 150km) or more
Weight: 940kg
Power: Integral Rocket Ramjet
Navigation and seeker: inertial / GPS (intermediate stage) + active / passive seeker (terminal phase)