November 18, 2008

Long Range Japanese ("peaceful") Missiles Continued

1st Published Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Japan ICBM capable M-5 launched into space.

UPI's Martin Sieff reported November 5, 2008 that:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- The Japanese government is slowly moving towards a decision to launch its own early warning ballistic missile defense satellite, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported Wednesday [Nov 5, 2008].

The Tokyo newspaper said it had received access to a draft plan for ballistic missile defense drawn up by the secretariat of the Japanese government's headquarters for space development strategy. The report calls for an assessment on the value of deploying an early warning satellite that could monitor any potentially hostile missile launch.

In addition, the draft plan recommends carrying out a feasibility study on launching more civilian comsats -- communications satellites.

The plan also suggests Japan should start building smaller short-range and medium-range missiles for its Defense Forces, in addition to the bigger H-2A missiles currently in use.

The Yomiuri Shimbun said this language may be an indirect way of pushing through approval to build the GX missile that has become a matter of some controversy. Old-fashioned bureaucrats who are opposed to Prime Minister.

Taro Aso's drive to develop a military space capability for Japan have opposed the GX project, and they managed to get the Space Activities Commission of the nation's Education Ministry, a stronghold for the old, cautious, pure research, non-military tradition in Japanese official space policymaking, to take a position opposing GX development.
"While many question the need to go ahead with the GX development project, (this plan) is -tantamount to approving it," one official told the newspaper.


However, the draft plan looks set to be smoothly approved and then implemented as national policy within the national budget for Fiscal Year 2009. The Yomiuri Shimbun said that at a meeting of the space development strategy secretariat Tuesday, it sent the draft plan on to be finally agreed upon at a second meeting to be held Nov. 27."



This rocket has no direct military missile value given its weight (445 tons) and with its strap-on booster configuration. However launches of this rocket give Japan ongoing experience in the use of the small and medium sized solid fuel boosters - handy for future development of missiles smaller missiles than the M-5. Wiki suggests "The H-IIA (H2A [or H-2A]) is a family of liquid-fuelled rockets providing an expendable launch system for the purpose of launching satellites into geostationary orbit."

It is manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA. Launches occur at the Tanegashima Space Center. "

The H-2A has been launched 14 times since 2001 - only one failure - last launch February 23, 2008. Its maximum payload to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is 15 tons and to Geo Stationary Orbit 6 tons.


A rocket ideal for conversion to an ICBM is Japan's variously called M-V, M5, M-5 or Mu-5,

At 30.8m high, 2.5m diameter and up to 139 tons it is clearly too big for ICBM duty however those specs are for 3 or 4 stages. Just two stages of a (say) 2m diameter scale down may be sufficient to hit Japan's most immediate enemies North Korea and China.

When one looks at Japan's experience, since 1966 in building the Mu range of booster rockets (with 7 smaller rockets before the M-5) Japan's ability to build manageable IRBMs and ICBMs is obvious.


It may be coincidental or intentional that Japan progressed from "strap-on" boosters (associated with peaceful use) in the earlier Mu series (Wiki description) to an ICBM like configuration for the M-5.

GX will move further in the direction of a space rocket as it is projected to weigh 210 tons and has a liquid fuel upper stage.

More on Japan's very short term nuclear weapons potential Japan's Potential ICBMs & Hoarding More Plutonium of April 29, 2008.

Shorter Range Missiles

Only old figures jump out about shorter range Japanese missiles. The Japanese don't want to appear offensive, appaer to stress reliance on more powerful US forces and don't wish to be seen as competing with the US' near monopoly in missile production and sales.

MHI produces various anti-ship missiles including Type-88 Surface-to-Ship Missile (SSM) and Type-90 SSM for the Japanese military

Specifications 1988 - Type 88 SSM1990 and Type 90 (SSM-1B), 5.1m long, 660 kg, Turbojet,

Maximum effective range - Type 88 SSM 180 km , - Type 90 (SSM-1B) 150 km
Inertial guidance + active radar homing
Deployment -
Type 88 SSM = 320 (?), Type 90 (SSM-1B) = About 40 as of 1994.

MHI also licence builds the US Patriot missile (see MHI site)