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Mounted on an ASDF F-2 fighter jet, the missile is capable of flying at Mach 3, or about three times faster than the conventional, domestic anti-ship missiles. The missile is considered least vulnerable to an adversary's interception because of its speed, but its range is believed to be only from about 100km up to about 200km.

The ASM-3 is a supersonic anti-ship missile being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to replace the ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles. XASM-3 can reach Mach 3 with a ramjet engine fed by two air intakes. The deisng is generally similar to MBDA's Meteor air to air missile of to the French ASMP-A air-launched tactical nuclear missile. XASM-3 flies close to sea level in the final stage of attack to reduce probability of detection and intercept.

Japan's Defence Ministry said the new missiles will allow Japanese fighters to better protect internal waters of the country, in particular, will provide protection against China in the East China sea. Missile XASM-3 is designed for aircraft Mitsubishi F-2 (created on the basis of the American F-16 fighter), and later will be adapted for installation on other fighter (including the F-35).

This is the first Western anti-shipping missile to achieve high supersonic speed with a heavy warhead. This is thanks to the ramjet engine incorporated into the frame of the missile. The propulsion system uses an integral rocket ramjet, which is initially driven by a solid rocket, and when it reaches a speed at which the ramjet engine can be started, it opens the air intake and places the booster in the combustion chamber of the ramjet engine.

The guidance unit employs an active / passive radar composite seeker, and the passive radar has the ability to continue to track and defeat the jammer or radar section even if the active radar is disturbed or targeted by electronic warfare. There is speculation that this passive radar will allow it to operate like a ground-based radar missile (ARM) on a limited basis.

The US Navy has begun looking at a new and cutting-edge anti-ship missile (ASM) to replace the aging RGM-84 Harpoon. Options have included Lockheeds Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) and a next-generation Tomahawk modified for maritime attack. But these are both only capable of subsonic operation.

Among others, Japan's Technical Research and Development Institute, Ministry of Defense [TRDI] had been investigating the Variable Flow Ducted Rocket Engine (VFDRE) from the 1990s. Japanese reports suggested the ASM-3 development began in 2000. Absent public announcement, the JDA supported technology items that would benefit the ASM-3, such as the ramjet propulsion system. The first public evidence of the ASM-3 program came in August/September 2006 when Mitsubishi F-2 test aircraft of the TRDI were seen carrying ASM-3 test missiles. Since then, aerodynamic and captive carry flight trials were completed.

In August 2009 a TRDI presentation at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) by a team from Japan's TRDI noted that tests were conducted with full-scale experimental vehicles powered by variable flow ducted rocket engines (VFDREs). The VFDRE test vehicles were launched from the ground, using rocket boosters to reach the velocity required for ramjet ignition. The presentation referred to a final air-launched configuration and described an air vehicle that was very similar to the ASM-3 configuration.

The vehicle has two rectangular, fixed geometry supersonic inlets underneath the body, four control fins, a gas generator chamber, and a ram combustor. Initially, the ram combustor is equipped with jettisonable nozzle and is filled with solid propellant, to form an integral rocket booster (IRB).

The XASM-3 has a single combustion chamber, shared by a first, acceleration stage and a second, ramjet cruising stage, wherein is stored the solid propellant used for missile acceleration. TThe convergent-divergent nozzle is optimally dimensioned for acceleration stage propulsion and the two air inlets designed to open after the acceleration stage to enable enough air to enter the combustion chamber to overcome the drag force on the missile by the high-speed ejection of the gases resulting from the combustion of ram air with the missile's fuel payload.

Conventional rocket propulsion systems to propel missiles have performance limitations imposed by a number of factors including a requirement to transport a required amount of oxidizer. For a given take-off mass this results in shorter range powered flights or reduced payloads relative to systems like ramjets and scramjets which obtain the oxidizer from atmospheric air.

Ramjet and scramjet engines have their own limitations; including inadequate thrust at low speeds thereby requiring a rocket or turbine booster of significant mass to accelerate the missile to ramjet takeover speed. Further, since the oxidizer for the ramjet comes from the atmosphere, the ramjet fuel flow must be controlled during flight to maintain the proper fuel to oxidizer ratio which may vary greatly over the flight duration.

Most missiles today employ solid rocket propellants that contain an intimate mixture of fuel and oxidizer chemicals which when ignited produce a highly energetic stream of gas used effectively for propulsion.

The ramjet combustor can be initially filled with solid propellant to provide the boost to ramjet take over. This configuration is referred to as an Integral Rocket Ramjet or IRR system. One limitation of prior art IRR systems is a necessity to increase the wall thickness of the ramjet combustor to withstand the higher rocket pressures and lengthen it to provide sufficient booster propellant to accelerate the missile to ramjet takeover speed at approximately Mach 2.5-3.0.

The target tracking radar system is located within the projectile. An active homing guidance system uses a monostatic radar system where both the radar transmitter and receiver are located in the projectile. A semi-active guidance system uses a bistatic radar system where a radar transmitter located remotely from the projectile (such as onboard the ship) illuminates the target and the reflected returns are received by a receiver located on the projectile. The tracking data from the radar measurements are then used to calculate the proper guidance signals to direct the projectile to the target.

Anti-ship missiles exhibit a wide variety of missile technologies including infrared-seeking and/or radar-guided missiles. Various countermeasure systems, have been employed in naval ships to protect against these anti-ship missiles, for example, by providing false signals to "confuse" guidance and/or fire control systems of the anti-ship missiles.

Currently, when a missile launch is detected decoys are launched off the deck of Naval combatants by a decoy launching system. These decoys fool air-to-surface missile guidance control into targeting the decoy instead of the ship. The fleet can launch both infrared (IR) and radio frequency (RF) decoys to counter IR or RF homing missiles. These decoys are launched via mortar or rocket propulsion from the deck of the surface ship.

Surface ship launched decoys have a limited separation range from the ship's launcher. Range is limited by the amount of propulsion that can be provided via mortar or rocket, by the storage confines for shipboard ordnance, and by launcher material strength limits. Storage requirements also limit the time that the decoy can provide deception before ceasing to function by limiting the amount of fuel held in the device.

The Japanese MoD was originally planning to test the missile in 2016, as Navy Recognition reported in 2015, but no test occured in 2016.

In March 2017 Japan denied reports speculating that it had test-fired a new supersonic air-launched anti-ship missile, although a test-firing was still on the cards for later in 2017. Responding to questions from Defense News, a spokeswoman from the Japanese Ministry of Defense's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, or ATLA, also confirmed that it was planning to test-fire a XASM-3 missile from a Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jet at a missile range in the Gulf of Wakasa, off western Japan.

Yomiuri Online reported in July 2017 that the next generation XASM-3 supersonic anti-ship missile would enter mass production in 2018.

The Defence Ministry completed development of the supersonic air-to-ship ASM-3 missile in fiscal 2017. The short range of the ASM-3, whose development has been completed, has been questioned within the Defence Ministry, so the ministry did not include procurement of the missiles in its draft budgets for fiscal 2018 and 2019. The range of the ASM-3 air-to-ship missile, which was developed in fiscal 2017, will also be doubled from the current 200 km to 400 km. The introduction of long-range missiles could lead to a strike capability against enemy bases, something that successive Japanese administrations refrained from acquiring to maintain consistency with its defense-only policy under the nations pacifist Constitution.

The ministry was considering incorporating the spending on the new missile development in its budget for fiscal 2020, at the earliest.

XASM-3 basic specifications:
Overall length 5.25m
Maximum speed Mach 3 or more
Firing range 80nm (about 150km) or more
Weight 900kg
Power Integral Rocket Ramjet
Navigation and seeker
  • inertial / GPS (intermediate stage) +
  • active / passive seeker (terminal phase)
  • ASM-3 ASM-3

    ASM-3 ASM-3 ASM-3 ASM-3 ASM-3 ASM-3 ASM-3

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    Page last modified: 12-08-2020 15:10:21 ZULU