Photo/Illutration A Tomahawk missile is launched from the U.S. missile cruiser USS Monterey in April 2018 toward a chemical weapons-related facility of the Assad regime forces in Syria. (Provided by the U.S. Department of Defense)

The Japanese government is considering purchasing Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States to beef up the nation's capabilities of attacking enemy military bases in counterstrikes, government sources said.

It aims to reinforce Japan’s defense capabilities until domestically produced missiles, currently being improved, can be fully deployed in fiscal 2026 or later.

The Tomahawk missiles have proven to be effective and can be launched from the ground or the sea. The cruise missiles were employed by the U.S. military during the Gulf War in 1991 and in the Syrian civil war in 2018.

The Japanese government intends to fundamentally enhance defense capabilities through the planned revisions to three key security policy documents, including the National Security Strategy. The revisions are planned at year-end. 

The government is also considering retrofitting Aegis destroyers to carry Tomahawks in their arsenals. 

Japan is currently working to improve domestically produced Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles to extend their range to around 1,000 kilometers. However, their operations will not start until fiscal 2026.

By introducing the Tomahawks, the government aims to bolster the nation's defense capabilities in the meantime.