Japan Considers Longer-Range Munitions
By WENDELL MINNICK, TOKYO
Yamada, based here, and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control are working closely with Japanese defense officials for the acquisition of the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
Yamada executives attending the 8th Japan-U.S. Security Strategy Conference and Exhibition here said that the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) was considering three Lockheed systems with a range of 300 kilometers — the BLK 1A, Unitary and next-generation Penetrator.
The JDA has a requirement for 270 missiles and 42 launch units. There are no co-production options, and a decision from JDA is expected within three years, said Yasuhiro Morino, president of the Morino Military Affairs Research Institute here and a retired Japanese lieutenant general.
Morino cautioned that procurement of the ATACMS would serve only a defensive role to protect Japan’s maritime territory.
“If the missile batteries were located at Asahikawa, Morioka, Niigata, Okayama, Kumamoto, the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima, a firepower posture could be established to launch an initial reaction that would include Japan’s foremost islands in the Sea of Japan, as well as the Soya, Tsugaru and Tsushima Straits,” he said. “ATACMS would make possible the fundamental policy that Japan must pursue for territorial defense, a policy that includes long-distance, expeditious, reliable countermeasures.”
Japan’s army has about 50 Lockheed Martin 227mm M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System launchers with a range of only 42 kilometers procured during the 1990s. These are slowly replacing about 60 older 130mm, 30-round Type 75 SP Multiple Rocket Systems developed in the 1970s by the Japanese Self-Defense Agency’s Technical Research and Development Institute, with a range of only 15,000 meters.