The Japanese defense ministry plans to seek increase in military spending to 5.1 trillion yen (US $51 billion) for the fiscal year 2017 which will include joint development of SM-3 missile with the US.
A portion of the requested budget will go toward joint development of the Standard Missile-3 Block IIA with the US. The next-generation missiles will be deployed on Aegis-equipped destroyers of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, Nikkei reported Friday.
The Block IIA will be able to shoot down incoming missiles at an altitude of 1,000km or more, compared with roughly 300km for the existing SM-3s. Japan and the U.S. are working to improve the new model's capability in response to a North Korean Musudan missile whose altitude exceeded 1,000km in a June launch.
Testing will be carried out off the coast of Hawaii this fall, with the aim of beginning production in fiscal 2017.
The Self-Defense Forces have a two-tier anti-missile system. Any missiles that make it through the Aegis-equipped destroyers and their S-M3s are met with the ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors.
Lockheed Martin will expand the Aegis fleet in Japan. The seventh and eighth Aegis ships will join Japan's fleet. Aegis provides four of Japan's Kongo-class destroyers and two Atago-class destroyers with advanced sea, air and undersea threat detection capabilities. The Self Defense Forces ofJapan joined the Aegis family in 1993.
The budget request will also include a PAC-3 upgrade to increase range. Japan is likely to make a significant upgrade to its Patriot missile defence system in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and to be able to intercept more advanced North Korean ballistic missiles in future.
The Missile Segment Enhancement could double the range of the current Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to around 30 km (19 miles), Reuters news agency had quoted unnamed sources as saying last month. The upgrade is expected to start next year.
The ministry will also request funding to improve the capability of surface-to-ship missiles deployed to the Sakishima Islands in Okinawa, around waters where Chinese activity has recently increased, and to upgrade F-15 fighter jets that would be scrambled from an SDF base in Okinawa if a Chinese military plane approaches Japanese airspace.