The US State Department announced 28 August that it has approved a foreign military sale to Japan for 50 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles with Extended Range (JASSM-ER) worth $104m, in a deal that also includes anti-jam global positioning system, missile containers and training missiles.

The missiles are intended to provide stand-off capability for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, integrating the missiles long-range strike system into Japan’s F-15 fighter jets.

With tensions rising in the Indo-Pacific between Japan and its neighbours, Japan has increased its defence budget significantly in recent years, and if current spending patterns continue it stands to have the third largest military in the world in five years, behind the US and China. Japan’s defence expenditure is motivated to counter threats from the rising military strength ofNorth Korea, China’s expansionist policies, and Russian activities in a disputed Northern Territory, according to GlobalData’s ‘Japan Defense Market 2023-2028’ report.

While Japan’s defence expenditure expanded at a combined average growth rate of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023, reaching $50bn in 2023, the country introduced a “Defense-Strengthening Acceleration Package” in 2020, which saw additional funds for the defence industry disbursed in the form of the supplementary budget, according to a report from GlobalData.

JASSM-ER is a low detection cruise missile that was first put into service with the US Air Force since 2014, and JASSM missiles are currently possessed by the US, Australia, Finland and Poland. The extended range version is a turbofan propulsion missile with a 450kg warhead and a range of 1000km, according to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The JASSM-ER’s low-observability airframe makes it of particular use in defeating enemy air-defences, such as the S-300, but the air-launched cruise missile is designed for a variety of targets. 19 JASSM missiles used in the battle-space during the Syrian Civil war, according to the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. According CSIS, JASSM-ER missiles were also used in the successful attack against the hideout of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019. 

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