Joint military drill among Japan, U.S., Britain and Australia at Narashino exercise field in Funabashi


  • The related U.S. initiative, referred to as "Rapid Dragon," represents an efficient strategy
  • The specific category of missiles that could potentially be deployed by C-2 aircraft in the future remains unknown
  • These would be used "to attack enemy bases such as missile launch sites in counterstrike operations"

Japan has officially stated it might equip its Kawasaki C-2 military transport aircraft with air-launched standoff missiles, aiming to enhance its capabilities for long-range strikes.

Should Japan proceed with this initiative, it will align with the U.S. military's ongoing exploration of incorporating standoff attack capabilities into its existing transport aircraft repertoire.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense is currently exploring the feasibility of equipping its C-2 aircraft with "long-range missiles," government sources said Sunday, according to Japan Times. These would be used "to attack enemy bases such as missile launch sites in counterstrike operations."

The missiles would be intended for targeting purposes, specifically aimed at engaging enemy installations such as missile launch sites during counterstrike operations.

Referred to as "Rapid Dragon," the U.S. initiative represents an efficient strategy for swiftly and economically enhancing such capabilities. This approach eliminates the necessity of acquiring and deploying additional combat aircraft, particularly bombers.

The specific category of missiles that could potentially be deployed by Japanese C-2 aircraft in the future remains undisclosed. However, these same sources detailed a launch procedure wherein the missile is initially released during the aircraft's flight before its engine becomes operational, the Japan Times reported.

It also said that the concept under consideration by Japan does not necessitate significant alterations to the aircraft and aligns with the fact that related technology is being developed by the U.S.

According to War Zone, these indicate that Japan is likely considering either the U.S.-conceived Rapid Dragon air-launched palletized munitions concept or a closely related one. The Rapid Dragon approach entails housing numerous munitions within modular frames, which are subsequently loaded in a palletized manner onto a cargo aircraft boasting a sizeable rear ramp, akin to the configuration of the C-2.

Meanwhile, in its fiscal 2023 budget, the Japanese Ministry of Defense has allocated a little more than $25 million to delve into this concept. The plan entails sustaining technical research efforts until fiscal 2024, and, if deemed successful, this would pave the way for subsequent full-scale development.

Regarding the potential missiles for deployment on the C-2 aircraft, these will be acquired as ready-made products. The Japan Times reported that the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) family of cruise missiles, produced in the U.S., would be a robust contender. Notably, Japan is in the process of acquiring JASSM for equipping its F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft, coinciding with an upgrade that encompasses the introduction of an advanced standoff precision strike capability.