TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan plans to bulk-order Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States by March next year as it begins a rapid military build-up, Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada said on Tuesday.
Japan wants to conclude a contract during the next financial year, which begins April 1, to buy Raytheon Technologies Corp Tomahawks through the US government’s foreign military sales (FMS) program, Hamada said at a regular news briefing.
Japan’s latest defense budget, which will jump by a quarter from last year, includes $1.6 billion to buy the cruise missiles, part of its biggest military build-up since World War Two. The government hasn’t said how many it will buy, but local media reports say it wants as many as 500.
Japan wants the cruise missile to give its military the capability to strike targets far from Japan to deter potential adversaries, including China, from attacking. The ship-launched version of the munition, which can fly more than 1,000 kilometers, would have enough range to hit targets inside China.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Elaine Lies; Editing by Tom Hogue and Gerry Doyle)