Japan scraps plan to obtain U.S.-made anti-ship missiles for F-15

© Kyodo News

Japan's Defense Ministry has scrapped a plan to obtain U.S.-made long-range anti-ship missiles with standoff capabilities for the Air Self-Defense Force's F-15 fighter jets due to ballooning costs, ruling lawmakers quoted ministry officials as saying Thursday.

The acquisition of the Lockheed Martin missiles, known as LRASM, was aimed at arming the ASDF with anti-ship missiles that can be launched by planes without them being exposed to enemy counter fire.

For the upgrade to enable the F-15 jets to carry the LRASM, the U.S. side presented an initial cost of about 98 billion yen ($894 million) but later increased it to 218 billion yen, citing supply shortages of necessary electrical components and the need to update software.

The ministry informed members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of its decision Thursday.

The ASDF has about 200 F-15s and the LRASM is one of the two U.S.-made cruise missiles it planned to mount on the fighter jets. The other is Lockheed Martin's air-to-surface standoff missile called JASSM.

At a time of increasing Chinese military assertiveness, the Defense Ministry has said the missiles, which are said to have a range of 900 kilometers, are necessary to boost the country's defense capabilities around the Nansei Islands, a chain stretching southwest toward Taiwan.