Japan beefs up missile system to defend against North Korea

by Abel Hampton December 20, 2017, 1:24
Japan beefs up missile system to defend against North Korea

The defence ministry will buy two Aegis Ashore land-based systems to add to its SM-3 guided missiles launched by Aegis-equipped destroyers and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles. The government plans to deploy the two batteries by 2023 but has yet to make a decision on the locations of the new missile defense systems.

"North Korea's nuclear missile development poses a new level of threat to Japan and as we have done in the past we will ensure that we are able to defend ourselves with a drastic improvement in ballistic missile defense", Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera told reporters in Tokyo today.

The Japanese government decided at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to introduce the Aegis Ashore ground-based missile defense system in a bid to better prepare for ballistic missiles from North Korea.

Initially, it was supposed to pay about 80 billion yen (almost $ 705 million) for one Aegis Ashore complex. The deployment of these systems is explained by the sharply increased missile threat from North Korea.

The government has chose to add a new layer of protection to the already existing two tiers of missile defences, the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors and the Air Self-Defense Force's ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors. "It is necessary to drastically expand our ballistic missile defense capability in order to continuously and persistently protect our country even during normal circumstances".

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has trumpeted his country's nuclear program
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has trumpeted his country's nuclear program

The Japanese government is still evaluating other options, including the possible acquisition of six Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries. The United States developed the system and it has already been deployed by USA forces in Romania and Poland.

North Korea has fired two missiles over Japan this year, as well as three intercontinental ballistic missiles on steep trajectories into the Sea of Japan.

Without it, Japan will not be able to fully utilize the extended range of a new interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, which cost about $30 million each.

"We believe this new system will significantly boost our abilities to deal with surprise attacks and saturation attacks", a ministry official said.

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