Japan Is Acquiring 400 Missiles from the U.S. 

The missiles will be equipped on Japan’s formidable fleet of destroyers.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces wants more missiles for its formidable fleet of Aegis cruisers. Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio surprised not only local officials but also geopolitics observers when he announced the massive bulk order of Tomahawk missiles from the United States. 

“The number of missiles and unit prices held by the SDF has not been published in order not to reveal the warfighting sustainability of the SDF,”  Kishida told members of the House of Representatives on February 27, 2023. 


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The announcement is definitely a strategic posturing with a twofold purpose: to enhance public support for its military expansion and to deter Japan’s potential adversaries, particularly China and North Korea. 

“We have decided to announce it this time because the public is very interested in Tomahawk [missiles], and the United States will also announce the maximum amount of [Tomahawk] missiles to be sold to Japan as part of [explanatory] process for the U.S. Congress,” Kishida explained.

In June 2022, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces posted a bizarre and almost cryptic tweet showing its old fleet of 11 destroyers sailing next to each other. The photo is undoubtedly impressive, and came at a timely period when Japan participated in RIMPAC 2022, the world’s largest naval exercise participated in by 19 countries. 

“We will strengthen the deterrence and coping power of the Japan-U.S. alliance and contribute to the defense of Japan and the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific and the world,” the Japanese Ministry of Defense wrote at the time. 


According to the Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Japan Self-Defense Forces and Tomahawk manufacturer Raytheon, the deal is worth $1.55 billion for the long-rage missiles that will be equipped on Japan’s Aegis destroyers. The delivery will be made from 2026 to 2027. 

What is a Tomahawk Missile?

The Tomahawk missile is a long-range, all-weather, jet-powered, subsonic cruise missile with a range varying from 500 to 2,500 kilometers, or the distance between Tokyo and Beijing, depending on the model. It is used by two of the world’s most advanced navies: The U.S.  Navy and the British Royal 


One of the  best features of the missile is its ability to hit fast-moving targets, with multi-mode and multi-course guidance. This means it can change course or targets midflight. 

According to open-source defense intelligence website Janes, “the range of the Tomahawk, depending on versions of the missile, varies from 550 to 2,500 km. The most recent versions of the missile, designated Block IV, are integrated with a datalink to enable the switching of targets while in flight and are capable of loitering for prolonged duration.”

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