Japan Approves Deployment of New Land-Based Missile Shield

A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15's test that was successfully launched in this undated

A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15's test that was successfully launched in this undated

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.

Defence officials say two Aegis Ashore units can cover Japan entirely by using advanced missile interceptors such as SM-3 Block IIA that was jointly developed by Japan and the USA, and would cost around 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion), though they have not released exact figures.

"North Korea's nuclear and missile development has become a more serious and imminent threat to our security, entering in a new phase", a Cabinet statement said.

Japan's Cabinet on Tuesday approved a plan to purchase a set of costly land-based USA missile combat systems to increase the country's defence capabilities amid escalating threats from North Korea.

The two units will be able to cover nearly all of the nation's territory and are expected to enhance its ability to intercept North Korean ballistic missiles.

A view of the newly developed intercontinental ballistic rocket Hwasong-15's test was successfully launched is seen in this undated
North Korea launched an ICBM and said it could carry a"super-heavy warhead

The purchase cost of each system could be at least 100 billion yen ($888 million), Mainchi quoted unnamed Defense Ministry officials as saying Tuesday. The Defense Ministry also studied another U.S. anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, but chose Aegis Ashore due to its cost-effectiveness and other factors, officials said. "It is necessary to drastically expand our ballistic missile defense capability in order to continuously and persistently protect our country even during normal circumstances".

As the acquisition plan was not stated in the latest national defense policy guidelines drawn up in late 2013, the government chose to seek Cabinet approval for the decision, according to the officials.

Aegis Ashore is already operating in Romania with another system planned for Poland. For research and other expenses involved in installing the system, the ministry has requested about ¥2.8 billion for the fiscal 2017 supplementary budget and about ¥730 million for the fiscal 2018 budget. It will be equipped with newly developed SM-3 Block 2A interceptors with enhanced defensive coverage and accuracy compared with the SM-3.

The ballistic missile that North Korea fired over Japan in mid-September had a maximum altitude of 770 kilometers, impossible for Japan to even attempt an interception.

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