Japan is to acquire medium-range, air-launched cruise missiles, capable of striking North Korea, according to Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

The purchase will be the longest-range munitions of a country that has renounced the right to wage war, Reuters said. Onodera did not refer to North Korea when announcing the planned acquisition, saying the new missiles would be for defense, with Japan still relying on the US to strike any enemy bases.

The Joint Strike Missile (JSM) will be mounted on the F-35A stealth fighter as “stand-off” missiles that “can be fired beyond the range of enemy threats,”Onodera said. Japan is also looking to mount Lockheed Martin Corp’s extended-range Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) on its F-15 fighters. The JSM, designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace, has a range of 500km, and the JASSM-ER can hit targets 1,000km away.

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