Onodera: Aegis Ashore to intercept cruise missiles

Onodera: Aegis Ashore to intercept cruise missiles

This sophisticated information system enables an Aegis destroyer to target a missile and fire an interceptor based on radar information provided by another Aegis vessel closer to the missile launch site.

In this image provided by the Missile Defense Agency, a SM-3 missile is fired from the USS Lake Erie in the mid Pacific Ocean on May 10, 2012.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally" by providing it "with an increased ballistic missile defense capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there", it said in a statement. The report further said the U.S. Navy plans to steadily introduce the engage-on-remote system to its Aegis vessels. "Japan is no longer needed to exist near us".

The sale comes on the heels of the Japanese National Diet's approval of a plan to build an Aegis Ashore missile defense system (the National Diet is Japan's parliamentary-style bicameral legislature). Consequently, the government intends to carefully gauge the USA side's intentions on this issue. After its latest ballistic missile test on November 28, Pyongyang claimed that its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-15, is able to strike the whole USA mainland. He argued that the continuation of a nuclear-armed North Korea was "absolutely unacceptable".

The MSDF now has four Aegis destroyers for the nation's missile defense. It is expected to enter operational service in 2019-2020 at a cost of about ¥170 billion (USD 1.5B) each, the report says.

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The Japanese government also considers a possibility to install this interception system on some other warships after carrying out necessary technical upgrade, the news outlet added.

The Japanese government aims to start operation of the Aegis Ashore in fiscal 2023 to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles amid the growing North Korean threat.

Onodera's comment suggests that Japan should expand the Aegis Ashore to be prepared for possible cruise missile attacks.

The United States is preparing to sell Japan anti-ballistic missiles that can be used on land or on AEGIS-class destroyers, according to a spokesperson in the State Department.

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