Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Japan's defense ministry is considering updates to its hyper-velocity gliding projectiles, or HVGP, in response to Chinese activities near southwestern Japan.
The Mainichi Shimbun reported Tuesday Tokyo's defense ministry is mulling an upgrade to the missile capable of striking Chinese aircraft carriers.
The missile would be deployed in 2026 to defend Japan's Nansei Islands. The hyper-velocity projectile is a guided missile capable of carrying out multiple missions for different gun systems and operates under the guidance of a GPS.
The system would be ready to respond to potential invasions to the Japan-claimed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. In a second phase of deployment in 2028, Tokyo's military would deploy even more advanced HVGPs featuring "claw-shaped payloads, enhanced speeds and firing ranges," according to the Mainichi.
Japan may be concerned about the rising presence of Chinese boats in Japanese waters and Beijing's decision to launch more aircraft carriers.
In 2019, China deployed a new aircraft carrier, the Shandong, the country's first domestically developed carrier.
The Senkaku Islands are a defense against any further enemy advance for Japan and are situated about 260 miles from Okinawa, home to a U.S. military base. Chinese state vessels have been seen in areas adjacent to the islands, according to the Mainichi.
Japan is increasing its defense budget, about $168 million for 2018 and 2019, to $227 million for fiscal 2020, at a time when Chinese aircraft carriers are restricting shore leave in response to the outbreak of the deadly new strain of coronavirus that has resulted in more than 2,600 deaths.
China's Naval News reported last week the Shandong has begun to require its crew to obtain personal permission from the carrier's captain or Political Commissar Pang Jianhong.
"That was to cut off the possible transmission outside the ship and block the virus before any infection," the Chinese navy said, according to the report.