The ASM-3 is a supersonic missile that could prove to be the game-changer for Japan to counter the Chinese (PLAAF) warships. Developed by Mitshubishi Heavy Industry, It travels hits its target five times faster than the speed of sound, making directional enhancements by itself, almost impossible to detect like a stealth fighter jet and carries a “Sea Buster” tandem charge warhead designed to annihilate surface warships and aircraft carriers.
According to Jane’s, it is comprised of a central warhead, which carries armour-piercing high-explosive shells and a nose fuze, and a precursor warhead that uses shaped charges. Unmanageable to stop and capable of zipping past air defence systems, it is a weapon that could cause havoc for the Chinese navy in the South China Sea.
A possible war against China will involve Japanese Navy preventing Chinese battleships from reaching the open Pacific and the ASM-3 will assist help them achieve this goal.
The ASM-3 boasts a 200-mile range—twice its original specification and will fly at a top speed of Mach 3, making it very difficult to intercept. The ASM-3 will be guided by GPS to the target zone before switching to radar for terminal guidance.
While the size of the warhead remains classified, it could be hundreds of pounds, thus enabling it to sink or disable many warships in a single hit.
Currently, the ASM-3 fits under the radar of the Japanese F-2. It’s too big to fit in the weapons bay of an F-35 stealth fighter, the fifth-generation fighter Tokyo is looking to procure from the United States.
Forbes Magazine predicts that compatibility with the ASM-3 will be a requirement for Japan’s new F-3 stealth fighter. The F-3 is also being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and is expected to be completed within the next decade. The increased presence of China in the Pacific has put Japan on high alert and the preparedness of Tokyo suggests that is preparing for the worst.
Both Japan and China lay historical claim over the archipelago that includes five uninhabited islands and three barren rocks, making a total area of not more than 5 sq km. The area surrounding the islands, however, is a rich fishing ground and is believed to hold oil and other valuable resources and both Tokyo and Beijing want to take control.
2017 XASM-3 Supersonic anti-ship missile test launch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8whVM6jyqCc
About ASM-3 supersonic anti-ship missile
Designed and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), ASM-3 is capable of reaching Mach 3 speeds thanks to its ramjet engine fed by two air intakes (in a similar fashion to MBDA’s Meteor air to air missile or to the French ASMP-A air-launched tactical nuclear missile).
ASM-3 basic specifications:
Full length: 6000 mm
Full width: 950 mm
Missile body diameter: 350 mm
Maximum speed: Mach 3 or more
Firing range: 80nm (about 150km) or more
Power: Integral Rocket Ramjet
Navigation and seeker: inertial / GPS (intermediate stage) + active / passive seeker (terminal phase)