Japan plans to begin modernization of its missile defense system in 2020


According to the Sankei newspaper, the Japanese Defense Ministry plans in 2020 to begin the modernization of its missile defense system to have the ability to intercept North Korean ballistic missiles. On December 2019, Japan has approved a defense budget to a record $48.56 billion.


Japan plans to begin modernization of its missile defense system in 2020 925 001
Japan Air Self-Defense Force MIM-104 Patriot launcher. (Picture source Wikimedia)


Japan’s Ministry of Defense will spend more than $1 billion to strengthen its ballistic missile defenses (BMD), including the purchase of a new generation of missiles designed by the American Company Raytheon to shoot down incoming warheads in space.

Japan will also invest money to begin building two ground-based Aegis Ashore missile tracking stations with powerful new radars.

Under Japan's current two-tier missile defense system, interceptors installed on Aegis destroyers shoot down missiles in outer space, while ground-based PAC-3 batteries are used to intercept missiles at altitudes of over 10 kilometers in case the Aegis system fails to destroy them.

According to the North Korean missile threats, Japan has been making efforts for the early deployment of a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system that is most suitable for Japan's exclusively defense-oriented policy.

Japan's BMD system is a multi-tier defense system comprising upper-tier interception by the Aegis BMD System and lower-tier interception by the Patriot PAC-3 system. The capabilities of the Aegis destroyers and Patriot systems currently maintained by the SDF have been and will be improved. The entire system consists of these weapons, high-performance sensors, and command, control, battle management, and communications systems, which effectively coordinate the weapons and sensors.

The Patriot system is a surface-to-air missile system that intercepts incoming ballistic missiles at the terminal phase (between reentry into the atmosphere and impact). It was introduced in Japan in 1993. The Patriot PAC-3 system is an upgraded version with capabilities of firing PAC-3 missiles, which can intercept ballistic missiles.

The Aegis BMD system is designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles at the midcourse phase while outside the atmosphere. The MOD has been conducting modifications to its Aegis destroyers one by one to incorporate BMD capabilities and also acquiring SM-3 missiles.

The SM-3 interceptor is a defensive weapon uses to destroy short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. In cooperation with Japan, Raytheon is developing the next-generation SM-3 Block IIA interceptor. It has two distinct new features: larger rocket motors that will allow it to defend broader areas from ballistic missile threats and a larger kinetic warhead.


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