Japan is trying to intercept Russian hypersonic projectiles

TOKYO, JAPAN — Russian and Chinese advances in hypersonic missile technology worry the Pacific region. This is especially true for Japan. The island nation has remote islands to protect. However, it is not only the islands that are at risk. The war in Ukraine showed that every country should think about protecting critical infrastructure. And not nuclear sites either.

Japan is trying to intercept Russian hypersonic projectiles
Photo credit: Military Wiki

The new Japanese defense plan, which should start its implementation in 2027, is in this direction. It is the indigenous Type-03 Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile, also known as Chu-SAM.

Today it is impossible to intercept hypersonic glide vehicles traveling at speeds above Mach 5. Russia and China have hypersonic missiles. However, Mitsubishi Electric has set out to, if it can’t intercept hypersonic missiles, at least attempt to intercept hypersonic projectiles.

According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo will try to optimize the software of the Type-03 Chu-SAM. It would have to enable the Japanese air defense network to intercept hypersonic projectiles. The idea is that the software predicts the trajectory of this projectile so that at some point it starts “chasing the missile and neutralizing it”.

However, Tokyo says, it’s not just the Type-03’s software that needs to be improved. To neutralize a Russian hypersonic projectile, the Type-03 will feature entirely new guidance and launch mechanisms. For security reasons, Japanese sources do not give more information about them.

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The Type-03 Chu-SAM is critical to Japanese defense. This system is conscientious and works in Japan together with the American Patriot air defense system. As local Japanese experts say, the Type-03 should complement the Patriot.

It is because of these main operationally defining functions of the Type-03 that Japan intends to deploy these SAMs to the Nansei Islands. According to sources in Tokyo – half of the available Type-03s will be committed to the defense of these islands. There are 14 ground units of this system in Japan.

To date, there is no exact geographical indication of where in the Nansei Islands Japan will deploy its Type-03 SAMs. Some military air defense experts have suggested that one possible location is Camp Yonaguni. It is located 110 km from Taiwan.

Japan recently began work on building a new camp near Ishigaki Island. It is assumed that it is there that Tokyo will deploy another Type-03 anti-aircraft missile system. The new camp is expected to begin operations gradually this month.

Japan’s actions in response to hypersonic threats are not from today. Already last year, Tokyo announced that it was starting work on increasing the detection range of the PAC3 anti-aircraft missile, which is launched by the American Patriot system.

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The Patriot system will also undergo a modification. American and Japanese sources claim that Japan will receive new radars for this system. They are LTAMDS, and according to some analyst assumptions, this radar would handle the detection of China’s Dongfeng [DF] 17 hypersonic missiles.

Last but not least, Japan should also look at North Korea. Although there is no word on whether Pyongyang has hypersonic missiles, dozens of new short- and medium-range ballistic missiles have been tested in the past year, which also poses a threat to Japan’s defenses. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that one of the North Korean ballistic missiles flew over the whole of Japan during its test flight.

Today, Japan has an anti-aircraft ballistic defense built in two stages. The first line of defense is the Standard Missile-3. This air defense is based on the Japanese Navy as the missile is launched from Aegis ships. This system should deter approaching airborne objects even outside the atmosphere.

If this anti-aircraft system fails, Japan activates its land-based air defenses, including the Patriot and Type-03. The new missile will add a layer of protection for Japan. It can be used in various places such as GSDF stations.


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