The Tomahawk, a tactical, land-attack cruise missile which can be fired from surface platforms, submarines or aircraft, has primarily been used by the US Navy and the UK Royal Navy. Japan requested 400 missiles last month and the US Government has approved the purchase.
The Government of Japan has been given the greenlight by the US Government to buy RaytheonTomahawk Weapon Systems (TWS), a move which has come in the face of growing regional tension between China and its immediate and more distant neighbours.
The deal, worth US$2.3 billion, will cover up to up to 200 Tomahawk Block IV All Up Rounds (AURs) (RGM-109E); up to 200 Tomahawk Block V AURs (RGM-109E); and 14 Tactical Tomahawk Weapon Control Systems (TTWCSs).
The deal also included support for the TWS such as the AURs, the TTWCSs and the mission distribution software suite centres, as well as containers, feasibility studies, software, hardware and training equipment and services.
In early October, newly installed Japanese defense minister Minoru Kihara said that Tomahawk missiles would reach Japan a year earlier than originally scheduled following a meeting with US defense secretary Lloyd Austin.
The accelerated schedule means Japan will accept Block IV Tomahawks beginning in FY2025, with Block Vs to be delivered in FY2026–27.
Kihara said that the performance and range of the Block IV were sufficient for Japan, and that the Japanese Marine Self-Defence Force’s eight Aegis ships could launch both types. Two new Aegis destroyers will also be commissioned in 2027–28.
Japan has also been considering ground- and submarine-launched versions of the Tomahawk.