Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM)
Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP)
Japan unveiled plans for hypersonic weapons, expected to enter service in the early 2030s, in a Japanese-language document published on the Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency website in March 2020. Under the plan, there will be two classes of hypersonic weapon systems, including the Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM) and the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP). Powered by a scramjet engine, the HCM was similar to a typical missile, though cruising at a much higher speed while capable of traveling at long ranges. As for the HVGP, it would feature a solid-fuel rocket engine capable of boosting its warhead payload and maintaining high velocity when gliding to its target.
Different warheads would be used against seaborne and ground targets. The warhead’s land-attack version, would feature a high-density explosively formed projectile, or EFP, to be used for area suppression purposes. Both warheads woulf be navigated via satellites. Warhead guidance would be either radio-frequency imaging converted from doppler shift data — which the government agency said will be able to identify stealthy naval targets in all weather conditions — or an infrared seeker capable to discriminating specific targets.
Lest anyone get too excited about all this, it should be noted that the two technical approaches - cruise and glide - are simply the generic approaches to hypersonic flight. And the post-2030 time frame for the initial operational capability is effectively never-never land when it comes to weapons development cycles. As of the year 2020, these missiles were little more than slogans and a snippet of artwork.
A large-scale military force is concentrated around Japan. Stand-off defense capabilitie prevent invasion of ships and landing units that attempt to invade Japan, including islands, while ensuring the safety of SDF personnel. Therefore, there is a demand for a stand-off defense capability that balances a response from outside the threat zone of the opponent with high survivability. Stand-off defense ability consists induced weapons and communications systems derived weapon system is. At present, Japan is promoting the development of stand-off missiles. Both are promoting research and development of high-speed glide missiles for island defense, new anti-ship missiles for island defense, and hypersonic guided missiles. The Ministry of Defense embarked on the development of Japan's first air-to-ship long-range cruise missiles (stand-off missile) because political considerations that had limited the ability to control missile range had changed. Japan had long avoided holding long-range missiles to avoid criticism of "threat to other countries ." In 2004, the government announced R & D on surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 300 km or less in the formulation of the Medium-Term Defense Plan, but abandoned after opposition from some ruling parties. However, a US-made air-to-ground missile with a range of 900 km in 2017. The introduction has been decided. China's armed forces seemed a threat to Japan. The need for long-range missiles became self-evident even in light of the Self-Defense Force's defensive mission under Article 9 of the Constitution
On 31 August 2018, the Ministry of Defense announced a budget request for defense budget in FY2019, but found that a new budget was required for research and development of scramjet engines for hypersonic cruise missiles. By increasing the size of high-speed glide missiles for island defense, it is possible for them to develop into hypersonic glide missiles. In addition, by developing hypersonic cruise missiles, the SDF can effectively use hypersonic weapons. Both types are likely to be researched and developed.
The budget request called for research on elemental technology for hypersonic guided missiles (¥ 6.4 billion). Conduct research on component technology of scramjet engine operated by jet fuel to realize scramjet engine [An engine that uses combustion in a supersonic airflow] capable of cruising at hypersonic speed [5 times or more the speed of sound].
The required item is "Scramjet engine operated by jet fuel", which requires the use of general jet fuel for aircraft that can be used at room temperature instead of low-temperature hydrogen fuel, which is advantageous for engine cooling. Regenerative cooling is a structure that uses fuel to cool the engine. For a jet fuel regenerative cooling scramjet engine, the technical challenge is quite high.
A patent [WO2013133299A1] issued 30 October 2013 to by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, a scramjet engine that generates thrust by performing supersonic combustion, and more particularly to a fuel supply system for a scramjet engine. In order to stabilize supersonic combustion using a hydrocarbon fuel, it is desirable to increase the proportion of low carbon components contained in the fuel and to keep the composition of the fuel constant. On the other hand, low-carbon hydrocarbons are in a gaseous state at room temperature. Therefore, if low-carbon hydrocarbons are installed in a fuel tank, the loading capacity of fuel cannot be increased, and long-time supersonic combustion (super Sonic flight). For this reason, jet fuel that contains high-carbon hydrocarbons and is liquid at room temperature can be loaded into a fuel tank, and during flight, the jet fuel can be decomposed by the heat of the engine to produce low-carbon hydrocarbons.
MHI proposed a scramjet engine that generates reformed fuel by thermally decomposing fuel with heat from a combustion chamber and burns the reformed fuel in the combustion chamber, methane that is easy to burn is selected as reformed fuel. A fuel supply system, a scramjet engine and a method of operating the same are provided.
To realize a hypersonic guided missile system, research on heat-resistant materials and propulsion devices for hypersonic flight is necessary. High-definition seekers and controls that optimize the system from comprehensive technologies such as fire control to realize them as guided missilesIt is necessary to steadily pursue elemental technologies such as these as a whole. In particular, with regard to basic technology for hypersonic flight, joint research with research institutionsIt can be expected to have a ripple effect on the entire industry and economy, including conversion to civilian technology as well as satellite technology.
By extending the range, it is possible to obtain effective hitting ability against distant targets and secure a wider protection range.? By increasing mobility and improving survivability, it is possible to break through the opponent's air defense network and efficiently eliminate threats.? Securing technological advantages by acquiring technologies and capabilities that are not sufficiently possessed by foreign countries including developed countriesHowever, Japan's stand-off defense capability can be used as a deterrent to invading other countries.
The Vision for Stand-off Defense includes increased hypersonic speed, longer range, improved survivability. The weapons would be designed to be easily mounted on various platforms and easy to maintain (maintain commonality as much as possible). In order to fully demonstrate the function as a stand-off defense capability, various platforms such as a guided missile system and a fire control systemAbility to work organically and address threats across forms and defense systems.
Japan has developed hypersonic weapons for a long time and is also one of the countries that occupy the leading position in hypersonic technology. Through long-term exploration in the hypersonic field since the 1980s, Japan has built a good foundation for its development in recent years.
In 1995 the National Space Development Agency of Japan and the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Science and Technology Agency developed an experimental hypersonic flight vehicle that can reach speeds of Mach 15. Called the HYFLEX (Hypersonic Flight Experiment), the experimental vehicle went on show to the media from the middle of May. The aim of the experimental vehicle, which is scheduled to be put into flight at an altitude of 110 kilometers and retrieved after splash down in the sea at the beginning of 1996, is to provide necessary data for the design of a Japanese-made space shuttle.
JAXA has been promoting research and development to establish technologies for a Mach 5 class hypersonic passenger aircraft that can cross the Pacific Ocean in 2 hours. Hypersonic passenger aircraft flying at Mach 5 will be exposed to higher temperature environments than supersonic aircraft flying at around Mach 2. Therefore, research and development of a new engine and a heat-resistant structure are necessary. With the main focus on research and development of hypersonic turbojet engine that can operate continuously from takeoff to Mach 5, our R&D in this field also include system analysis of hypersonic passenger aircraft, aerodynamic design, heat resistance design, and other important features.
In 2016, the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) of the Japanese Defense Ministry issued the Medium- To Long-Term Technology Outlook (DTO) to plan the development of weaponry and key technologies in the next 20 to 30 years. This document believes that Japan currently relies on subsonic cruise missile in precision strike which is difficult to effectively deter the enemy. Therefore, it is necessary for Japan to develop new hypersonic strike weapons.
With the support of future combat mission and early technology reserves, Japan successively disclosed a number of research projects on hypersonic missiles, reflecting the planning ideas of the parallel development of high-speed boost glide missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles.
In 2017, Japan’s ATLA proposed the “Research on High-Speed Glide Missile Technology for Island Defense” in the 2018 defense budget document. The following year, the program was renamed “Research on High Speed Glide Missiles for Island Defense” and a more detailed phased development plan was proposed. Although the project always uses descriptions such as “high speed” and “supersonic”, the flight speed indicators have not been disclosed and thus it cannot be concluded that they belong to hypersonic weapons. The High Speed Glide Missiles for Island Defense is for inter-island attacks with a range of 300 to 500 kilometers. With land-based launch method, the missiles’ deployment and strike range have triggered concerns worldwide.
Hyper-Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP)
A hypersonic dual-mode scramjet missile is being developed by Japan, capable of flying five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). This is about 1,700 meters per second or 3,800 mph or 6,200 km/h. The Japanese Ministry of Defense's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) is developing a hypersonic cruise missile, in collaboration with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries based in Tokyo.
Reports of Ministry of Defense plans to develop home-grown hypersonic weapons first appeared in late 2018. Japan would be the fourth country in the world capable of mastering hypersonic missile technology after China, Russia and the United States. According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, missiles which are part of the hyper velocity gliding projectile (HVGP) will be operated with an initial version of the missile in 2026, followed by an enhanced version after 2028. The development of Japan’s future missile was set to be completed in the 2030s.
The hypersonic cruise missiles (HCM) would use a scramjet for propulsion, to maintain high velocity for longer periods when compared to regular ballistic missiles. The hyper velocity gliding projectiles (HVGP) are similar to ballistic warheads, with the payload detaching from the rocket engine at high altitude before gliding to its target.
This technology allows the missile to launch at high speed in the upper atmosphere, a weak point for the air defense system, and then follows a complex trajectory, making it difficult to be intercepted with existing anti-missile shields. It will have a range of around 500 km (300 miles) or less to meet Japan's "special financial policy" requirements. Reports indicate that the weapon will most likely have a warhead especially designed to penetrate the decks of Chinese aircraft carriers.
Yusuke Tanabe reported "The development of HVGPs will come in two stages. In the first stage, an early equipment type will be developed for possible deployment by the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) in fiscal 2026, targeting a potential enemy invading Japan's remote islands. In the second stage, an upgraded type will be developed for possible installation in fiscal 2028 or later, featuring claw-shaped payloads, enhanced speeds and firing ranges, and more complex trajectories."
In May 2020 the Japanese government was investigating a potentially serious breach of national security after a cyber-attack on Mitsubishi which may have yielded top secret missile plans. The company said it reported an incident to the Defense Ministry in February 2020, in which sensitive information including personal data on 8000 employees may have been stolen. Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the government was investigating “the possible impact of the information leak on national security.” The stolen data is thought to relate to the prototype missile that Mitsubishi was bidding to build.
In 2018, Japan disclosed its hypersonic cruise missile project for first time. At that time, Japan’s ATLA proposed the “Research on the Essential Technology of Hypersonic Missiles” project in the fiscal year 2019 defense budget document to develop cruise missile technology at speeds above Mach 5, with emphasis on engine technology. It is worth noting that the project started in 2013 and entered the development phase after six years of preparation. This indicates that Japan has carefully evaluated the feasibility of developing hypersonic cruise missiles and may have already formulated a reasonable development plan.
It can be seen that although Japan adopts a strategy of parallel development of glide missiles and cruise missiles, the Japanese Ministry of Defense has explicitly proposed to complete the weaponization of glide missiles by 2035, which shows that its related technology might have reached a certain level of maturity.
As for cruise missiles, Japan’s Ministry of Defense recently disclosed plans to complete the first-type research and development by 2030 and achieve deployment around 2030, showing its confidence in its own technical capabilities and preliminary work to a certain degree. Given the gap between the currently available hypersonic technology and its practicality, there is still considerable uncertainty as to whether it can be deployed in just a decade or so despite Japan’s eagerness to possess such advanced weapons. As far as hypersonic missiles are concerned, Japan has mastered carrier rocket technology and aircraft re-entry technology, and has an important foundation for the development of boost glide missiles. It is only a matter of time if Japan wants to develop high-speed boost glide missiles with a range of 300 to 500 kilometers. On the other hand, after the gliding warhead technology is mature, it will not be difficult for Japan to develop a hypersonic-assisted glide missile with faster flight speed and longer range based on its acquired multi-stage solid rocket technology.
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