The State Department recently notified Congress of a possible $2.35 billion sale of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Japan. The deal aims to provide Japan with expanded land attack capabilities as it looks to boost deterrence.
Up to 400 Tomahawk Missiles
The proposed foreign military sale includes up to 400 Tomahawk Block IV and Block V missiles. 200 of each variant would enhance Japan’s surface and submarine strike abilities.
The package also contains Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control Systems, training, and related support. Japan intends to use the missiles on existing naval launch platforms.
Significantly Extending Strike Range
The acquisition of Tomahawks will substantially augment the stand-off attack reach of Japan’s armed forces. The low-flying subsonic missiles can strike targets up to 1,000 miles away.
This provides Japan with the ability to precisely hit enemy assets well before they can threaten Japan’s territory. Tomahawks complement the anti-ship focus of Japan’s current missile inventory.
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Deterring Regional Threats
A driving motivator behind the deal is enhancing Japan’s deterrence posture in the face of North Korean provocations and growing Chinese assertiveness.
With Tomahawks, Japan can show the will and capability to punish threats or aggression through sophisticated long-range strikes.
Interoperability with US Forces
The Tomahawk acquisition also boosts interoperability between US and Japanese forces. It allows Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to conduct combined stand-off attacks alongside the US.
This contributes to a networked force posture that enhances deterrence by signaling US-Japan solidarity against regional challenges.
Ongoing Japan Military Modernization
The missile purchase aligns with Japan’s efforts to field advanced indigenous defense capabilities under its recent military buildup policy adjustments.
It follows Japan’s decisions to procure F-35 stealth fighters, convert Izumo carriers for F-35B operations, and develop new hypersonic anti-ship missiles.
Commitment to Alliance
Approving the sale of such an advanced offensive system underscores Washington’s commitment to ensuring Japan has the tools required for its defense needs.
It shows US intent to uphold its role in the bilateral security alliance as Japan confronts a deteriorating regional threat environment.