First Look At Japan’s Upgraded Type 12 SSM
The Type 12 SSM (Upgraded) will bring more range and be more lethal and survivable
On August 2, 2022, Japan’s major newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported that the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) is looking at accelerating the deployment of the upgraded version of the Type 12 surface-to-ship missile (SSM) that is currently under development.
Type 12 SSM (Upgraded)
The Defense White Paper released at the end of July 2022 offers our very first look at the missile. The photo provided by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer of the Type 12 SSM, shows a missile shaped like an AGM-158 JASSM.
The Type 12 SSM originally had a range of about 200 km. The new upgraded version aims to extend the range to at least 900 km, and eventually to 1,200 km. The shape of the missile has also been modified to reduce the radar cross section (RCS) and make it stealthy.
The “Type 12 SSM (Upgraded)” will also implement Up to Date Command (UDTC), which allows the missile to receive information about the target via satellite communications while in flight and more accurately attack moving targets.
This capability upgrade for Type 12 SSM was decided by the Japanese government in 2020, mainly against the background of China’s maritime expansion and military buildup, so that it can safely attack enemy naval vessels from outside the range of enemy anti-aircraft missiles. The “Type 12 SSM (Upgraded)” will be developed not only in the conventional ground-launched version, but also in ship- and aircraft-launched versions, with the ground-launched version to be developed from FY2021 to 2025, the ship-launched version from FY2022 to 2026, and the aircraft-launched version from FY2024 to 2028, respectively.
According to media reports, the Japanese government had planned to deploy the ground-launched version from FY2026, but has decided to accelerate this schedule, aiming to deploy it from FY2023. This is based on the concept of deploying weapons when they have acquired a certain level of capability before their development is complete.
Accelerating the deployment of equipment: A recent trend in Japan
Especially against the backdrop of China’s growing military power, Japan has recently been deploying weapons at an accelerated pace. For example, the Hyper-Velocity Gliding Projectile (HVGP), which is currently under development for Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), is divided into two development phases: Block 1 for early deployment and Block 2 for higher performance. The HVGP is launched from a mobile ground launcher. Once it reaches a certain altitude, the glider separates from the booster, and then glides at high altitudes at supersonic speeds (expected to reach hypersonic speed in Block 2) while being guided by Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). It then flies to the target point. The target is attacked directly from above at a 90° dive.
In order to prevent the Chinese military from invading Japan’s remote islands, including the Senkaku Islands, the howitzers and Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) currently deployed by the JGSDF are insufficient in terms of range, and it is essential to deploy HVGP, which have a range of at least several hundred kilometers. Therefore, the first step is to deploy HVGP Block 1 to achieve this goal as soon as possible, followed by the deployment of Block 2, which has a much longer range and is believed to be equipped with a seeker which would allow it to target mobile targets. At present, it is expected that Block 1 will be deployed in FY2026 and Block 2 in FY2028-FY2030 or later.
In addition, the Japanese government is currently planning to give JSDF the capability to strike ground targets, especially those related to North Korean ballistic missiles and Chinese naval and aircraft military bases, etc. The “Type 12SSM (Upgraded” will have the capability to attack not only naval vessels but also ground targets as its capability upgrades, and therefore, along with the HVGP, it is expected to be one of the core components of this strike capability along with the HVGP.