Home » Budget Industry » Report: Japan Considering Buying Tomahawks for Destroyer Fleet to Deter North Korea


Report: Japan Considering Buying Tomahawks for Destroyer Fleet to Deter North Korea

Japanese Aegis Destroyer JS Kongo (DDG-173) launches a SM-3 in 2007. U.S. Navy Photo

Officials in Japan are weighing arming their fleet of guided-missile destroyers with Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to a report in the Japanese press.

Late last week, the Kyodo news wire quoted a government official who said the Japanese government was interested in acquiring the land-attack strike missiles as a hedge against North Korean missile attacks.

“The government is eager to set aside funds to study the feasibility of acquiring the ability to strike enemy missile sites, and could do so in the draft budget for fiscal 2018, the official said Friday on condition of anonymity,” reported the wire.
“According to the official, the government is looking to purchase the Tomahawk cruise missile.”

Tomahawks would easily integrate into Japan’s fleet of guided-missile destroyers. Several Japanese Maritime Defense Force ship classes field the U.S.-designed Mk-41 Vertical Launch System cells that can easily accommodate the Tomahawk. How much modification the ships would need to include the necessary mission planning area is unclear.

News of Japanese interest in arming its fleet of guided-missile destroyers with offensive strike weapons comes as Japan continues to refine the interpretations of its pacifist constitution that’s rooted in the idea of self-defense. Since World War II, Japan has pledged not to create an offensive force but field a military that is rooted in protection of its territory.

In January, “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said a decision to strike enemy launch sites when there is no alternative would fall under the category of self-defense under the reinterpreted war-renouncing constitution,” reported the news wire.

In addition to arming the fleet of destroyers with Tomahawks, reports over the last several months indicate Tokyo may look to other U.S. ballistic missile defense kit to further defend against a North Korean threat.

“North Korea’s provocative acts are reaching levels our country can simply no longer overlook,” a Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) security panel said late March.
“We can’t waste a moment to strengthen our ballistic missile defense.”

Previous systems that have been mention under consideration are the deployment of U.S. Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and a Japanese installation of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system.

  • NavySubNuke

    Smart move by Japan. They will need TLAMs and more to deter both North Korea and China as the combat ability of the US fleet continues to contract for the next 10 years or so as real warships are replaced by little crappy ships and SSNs retire faster than we can build them.

    • sferrin

      Lemme guess, “real” warships have lots and lots of gunz and don’t fire ’til they see the whites of their eyes right? Jeeezus.

      • NavySubNuke

        No real warships have the ability to take damage and survive, including actually surviving shock events without pulling off a bunch of equipment first and stopping the trial early. They also have the ability to defend themselves and to either strike first at the enemy or at least to strike back.
        Nice try though – keep working on your insults and you might one day come up with one that makes you at least appear competent.

        • sferrin

          “No real warships have the ability to take damage and survive, including actually surviving shock events without pulling off a bunch of equipment first and stopping the trial early. They also have the ability to defend themselves and to either strike first at the enemy or at least to strike back. ”

          You mean like the ~90 and counting Aegis ships we have? I swear you seem to think we’ll be sending in CVBGs escorted by nothing but “Little Crappy Ships”. As for “insults” there is no need. You insult yourself every time you open your mouth.

          • NavySubNuke

            LOL. Lots of tough talk there shippy. If you were smarter and less arrogant you would know what I meant. No worries though – half the fun of the internet is watching “tough” guys like you embarrass yourselves.

          • sferrin

            “tough”? The fact that even crosses your mind speaks volumes about you. None of it flattering.

          • NavySubNuke

            Whatever you say there shippy!

    • USNVO

      I a courious, what are these “real warships” that are being retired for LCS? The last of the FFXGs retired long ago, the MHCs retired over a decade ago, so that leaves the PCs, none of which are near Japan, and the MCMs. So China is deterred by a couple of slow, .50cal armed, wooden mine countermeasures ships? I mean, they have an incredibly small magnetic signature but they don’t carry TLAM. All the ships the LCS will replace are pretty much already gone. On the other hand, the number of new AEGIS TLAM carrying DDGs has been going up by 2-3 a year with no end in sight, so they can’t be the ships you are referring to either. Can you clarify?

      • NavySubNuke

        Although they retired years ago when the Navy ship count was in steep decline I consider the LCS to be a replacement for both the Spruance and OHP. Mabus expressly talked about how proud he was of raising the ship count by adding so many of these. Also, if the Navy budget folks had had their way we would have “replaced” a number of Aegis cruisers with LCS’ as well.
        We may be adding 2-3 DDGs per year but we could be adding 3-4 if we weren’t buying LCS at the same time. Or we could be buying a mix of DDGs and a US build FREMM like frigate.

        • USNVO

          So while your post said the US Fleet continues to contract for the next ten years, what you really meant was the Fleet contracted twenty years ago after the Cold War ended but is now expanding, just not the way you like? OK, got it.

          • NavySubNuke

            Nope, nice assumption but you know what assuming does….

  • socrateos

    Another step toward becoming a “normal nation,” thanks to Chinese expansionism and NKorean Nuclear adventures.

  • publius_maximus_III

    “News of Japanese interest in arming its fleet of guided-missile destroyers with offensive strike weapons comes as Japan continues to refine the interpretations of its pacifist constitution that’s rooted in the idea of self-defense.”

    I respectfully disagree with this statement. A missile intended to strike land-based targets does not an offensive weapon make. If used for a deterrent against Fat Boy’s provocative and aggressive acts, like firing a test ballistic missile over sovereign Japanese territory, they should be considered defensive weapons.

    To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt for the Far East, “Bow softly, but carry a big tomahawk.”

  • John B. Morgen

    The Japanese really needs to change their outdated and outmoded Constitution, before the [Hot War] begins.

  • Curtis Conway

    The article is about TLAM. One would think that the editor could use an actual depiction of the launch of a TLAM, instead of a Standard Missile.

    • Koverpd

      “Japanese Aegis Destroyer JS Kongo (DDG-173) launches a SM-3 in 2007.” Which part you don’t comprehend?

      • Curtis Conway

        Well . . . Let’s see . . . the title of the article, and the article is mostly about LAND ATTACK, although THAAD is mentioned. The picture is of an SM-3A which is something that intercepts things outside the atmosphere. Now, my analysis is that exo-atmosphere is no where near DIRT! Tomahawk land attack missiles take care of targets in a proactive manner. The SM-3A takes care of targets in a reactive manner. This discussion could go on for paragraphs, but I will leave it at that. Did I miss something?

        It should also be noted that Japan is one of the few countries that has an existing and functioning ABM program. Modification of the Destroyers is an add on, and improvement of those platforms to be able to engage in another environment, that modifications of which has been in progress for some time. I applaud any future Aegis Ashore installations in Japan and South Korea.

        • Koverpd

          Good lord you must be fun at parties. Are you suggesting Tomahawks won’t be deployed on Atago and Kongo class DDG, only on DD?

    • NavySubNuke

      To be fair to USNI the article was about the idea of Japan buying TLAM to put onto the Aegis class ships so really a shot of a Japanese DDG OR a TLAM are both appropriate.
      Admittedly a Japanese DDG firing a TLAM would have been the most appropriate picture but since, to my knowledge at least, such an event has never occurred they had to work with what they have.
      Had it been a picture of a US DDG firing an SM-3 I would have agreed with you but since it is a Japanese DDG I think you are working to hard to find offense.

      • Curtis Conway

        I’ll grant you that. However, I would have found an agnostic picture (no platform recognition available) of a TLAM coming out of a Mk41 VLS, and there are numerous examples of that.

        • Koverpd

          Try finding one for on JMSDF ships.
          Wait you can’t. Stop picking on illustrating selections. Their choice of photo is fine.

          • Curtis Conway

            Since the JMSDF does not yet employ that weapon it would seem that would be a little tough.

  • Aussie Andrew

    Japanese Prime Minister Abe is acting like a WW2 Japanese soldier stuck in a slit trench looking like he doesn’t know that Emperor Hirohito has surrendered.
    (Apologies to Donald’s best friend; Nigel Farage).
    China will keep advancing it’s technology and military for the next 50 years; so get used to it Japan; you are a very small nation compared to China and you need to cuddle-up to China if you want to be safe in the next century. Australia also needs to become the ‘Switzerland of the East’ and declare military neutrality in future.