Japan Eyes Supersonic Glide Bombs to Protect Disputed Islands from China
Preparing for the worst with one of its neighbors, Japan has ordered researchers to develop new glide bombs in case Beijing decides to make a move on the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.
The new weaponry, which would be deployed from mobile, land-based launchers, is expected to be fully operational by 2025 following the creation of a prototype, according to the South China Morning Post, citing comments Japanese defense ministry officials made to the country's media.
Defense expert Garren Mulloy, who is also an international relations associate professor at Japan's Daito Bunka University, told the Post that the new military equipment would have applications against a variety of targets, including military vehicles, troop-carrying vessels and fixed emplacements.
"Up until now, the Japanese have been very short of these precision-guided munitions, especially in comparison to the US, NATO or the Russians," Mulloy told the outlet. "So it comes as no surprise that they want to look into these sorts of weapons."
The first new glide bomb units, made to compliment Japan's cruise missiles, are expected to be deployed on Japanese islands that are close to the Diaoyu Islands, which Japan controls, but China claims as its territory. Potential deployment locations include the Miyako and Ishigaki islands, which are roughly 130 miles and 102 miles from the disputed territory, respectively.
According to the Post, the bombs would be launched to reach an altitude of more than 12 miles before falling at a supersonic speed toward their designated targets.
With an undisclosed amount of funds already set aside from the Japanese defense ministry's budget for the project this year, an extra $122 million is expected to be allocated for researchers for 2018, according to Japan Times.
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