Japan may supply Ukraine never exported Type 91 surface-to-air MANPADS

TOKYO ($1=146.27 Japanese Yens) — Japan’s defense ministry is undergoing reform. It can open many doors for future supplies that have been closed until now. The reforms are principled, but they follow the real threats in recent years from China, as well as what is happening in Europe [the war between Ukraine and Russia].

Japan may supply Ukraine never exported Type 91 surface-to-air MANPADS
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The Japanese government is considering removing an “obstructive” rule in its national security strategy. This could happen in 2023. The “Three Principles” rule has so far prevented the export of Japanese weapons equipment. Tokyo has already started the review process. Japan wants to ease conditions for exports and used equipment. Japanese media conglomerate in the region Nikkei wrote about it. One reason is the growing threat from China.

If the regime is eased, it will allow rapid export of Japanese tanks and missiles to partner countries in the region. According to Japanese media, the relaxation of the regime will not only boost the export of old Japanese weapons equipment but also its free donation to countries in need.

The Japanese online portal grandfleet.info writes that this opens a big door for Ukraine. Until now, weapons systems that are Japanese or have Japanese components and main parts were difficult, if not impossible, to donate to Ukraine. However, grandfleet.info writes that with the revision of the “Three Principles” expected to happen in April 2023, Tokyo may donate Type 91 surface-to-air missiles to Kyiv.

From the article in Nikkei and the analysis in grandfleet.info, it is clear that Japan wants to donate weapons to Ukraine as it is looking for an option to “solve the dilemma of not being able to supply weapons due to the invasion of Ukraine.”

Type 91 SAM

The Type 91 surface-to-air missiles are a Japanese man-portable air-defense system [MANPADS]. This weapon has never been exported to another customer and is only operated by the Japanese military. It was designed by Toshiba and has been in service since the mid-1990s.

The rocket is powered by a solid rocket motor and reaches a speed of Mach 1.9. The guidance system consists of a passive guidance system with an infrared seeker. This is the so-called infrared homing. Japan has developed this type of missile to be launched from three installations: air via helicopter, ground via the land-based Kin-SAM [Type 93] system, and MANPADS.


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