Japan mulls dropping plan to procure U.S.-made anti-ship missiles

©Kyodo News

Japan is considering scrapping its plan to procure U.S.-made long-range anti-ship missiles with standoff capabilities for the Air Self-Defense Force's F-15 fighter jets, government officials said Saturday.

The plan to change its policy is due to ballooning costs, according to the officials, who declined to be named as a formal decision has not yet been made.

The acquisition of the Lockheed Martin missiles, known as LRASM, is aimed at giving the ASDF the capability to strike from outside an enemy's threat range.

At a time of increasing assertiveness by China around Japanese territories, the Defense Ministry has said the missiles, which are said to have a range of 900 kilometers, are necessary for boosting Japan's defense capabilities around the Nansei Islands, a chain stretching southwest toward Taiwan.

With the likely policy change, the government will also consider reducing from 70 the number of the ASDF's fleet of F-15 aircraft it is planning to upgrade, according to the officials.