Japan asked to buy 150 AIM-120C-7/8 missiles for its Air Force fleet

WASHINGTON — 150 AIM-120C-7/8 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles [AMRAAMs] are the subject of a future deal between the US and Japan. Tokyo has expressed a desire to acquire these missiles to improve the combat capability of its fleet. The information was officially released by the US Defense and Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA].

AIM-120 AMRAAM - Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The estimated price of the transaction is estimated at 293 million USD. In addition to the AIM-120C-7/8 missiles, Japan wants to acquire three AIM-120 AMRAAM homing sections. Traditionally, the US provides training, documentation, logistics, integration, and service for the purchased weapon. In this particular case, this practice has not been changed.

Japan has a large fleet of combat aircraft. Most likely, the 150 AIM-120C-7/8 air-to-air missiles will be part of the armament of the Japanese F-15, the Mitsubishi F-2 [developed based on the F-16], and the fifth-generation stealth fighter F-35 Lightning II.

The AIM-120C-7/8 missile has some upgrades from its predecessors. Although it was developed in the late 1990s, the AIM-120C-7/8 is one of the best-selling modifications of the AIM-120. AIM-120C-7/8 included improvements in a homing and greater range, which by default is >105 km [>57 nmi]. The AIM-120C-7/8 warhead is the WDU-41/B, 40 pounds [18.1 kg]. The US first conducted tests of the AIM-120C-7/8 in 2003.

Japan, as a US partner in the Asia-Pacific region, enjoys good defense trade relations with Washington. The US in principle accepts and approves such purchase requests. The reason is China – is considered the main porter of the USA in the region. Japan and China are also not on good terms, and such a purchase significantly increases the combat capability of the Japanese air fleet. Last but not least, US military personnel are stationed in Japan and this sale ensures their protection.

The US Defense and Security Cooperation Agency has already notified Congress of Japan’s request. In the coming weeks, it is expected to be accepted and the process will be set in motion. Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona will be the lead contractor. The official press release issued by the US Defense and Security Cooperation Agency did not specify the period of execution and delivery, but it is assumed that by the end of 2023, Japan will have the entire ordered quantity.

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