Marine General Claims Long Range Missiles Key to Fighting China

In an exclusive interview with Nikkei Asia, Commander of United States Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Lieutenant General Steven Rudder pointed out that long range strike capability will be vital for the United States and Japan in deterring hostile military activities in the Western Pacific, and that Japan should look to increase cooperation with the United States in intelligence gathering. The general felt that in the event of a conflict with China, the two capabilities will be critical to success.

Lt. Gen. Rudder of the USMC
Lt. Gen. Rudder of the USMC (DoD)

The report claims that Lt. Gen. Rudder made the assessment with the assumptions that China is accelerating its naval expansion and is looking to increase power projection towards the Indo-Pacific, beyond their local east and South China Sea. In the report, the general pointed out United States Navy’s land-based missiles and the Japanese domestic Type 12 Anti-ship missile, when used in concert, “can enable us to conduct maritime area denial missions”.

Recently, Overt Defense reported on the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s acceleration of the upgrade program for its Type 12 anti-ship missiles, increasing the missile’s range from the current 200 kilometres to potentially beyond 1000 kilometres. Pushing the schedule of the program forward from deployment at 2026 to deployment at 2023, first at the Nansei islands and Kyushu, among other regions of particular adjacency to the Chinese coast and North Korea. Rudder reportedly approves of the move, and thinks that it would increase military options and contingencies.

The general also called on Japan to improve its intelligence-gathering cooperation with the United States, emphasizing the importance of accurate locations of Chinese warships and planes in any conflict with Beijing.

“We believe in the need to build larger-scale intelligence-gathering assets in the future,” he said, stressing that the United States is seeking to build a comprehensive maritime surveillance capability “that can cover areas of common concern to the United States and Japan around the clock.”