U.S. approves potential sale of air-to-surface missiles to Japan

The U.S. government has approved the potential sale to Japan of air-to-surface missiles and related equipment for an estimated cost of $104 million, the State Department said Monday.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the plan regarding the extended-range missiles, also known as JASSM-ER, earlier in the day.

The Japanese government has requested to buy up to 50 of the missiles, the agency said, adding that the proposed sale will help the United States improve the security of “a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The missiles will be mounted on Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force F-15 and other fighter jets, it said in a statement, noting also that the plan will neither change the basic military balance in the region nor cause an adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness.

In the face of serious security challenges posed by China and North Korea, the Japanese government updated its key defense documents late last year, vowing to acquire so-called counterstrike, or enemy base strike, capabilities in a major policy shift under the country’s war-renouncing Constitution.

As part of such efforts, Japan has become more active in acquiring and developing long-range missiles.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga