Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force will deploy a Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air guided missile unit for a joint training exercise with US troops next month at the hub of the two allies' Yokota Air Base.
The exercise, which could be held as early as August, is to test the two forces’ capabilities against increasing military provocations by North Korea in the form of ballistic missile launches, local media reports.
A Defense Ministry source described Yokota as "the symbolic base for the ongoing move toward closer cooperation in the Japan-U.S. security alliance", The Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday.
Because of its key role, Yokota could be a target for North Korea if it launched ballistic missiles toward Japan, the report says.
Yokota Air Base has been included as one candidate site for deploying the PAC-3 missile unit under a defense plan compiled against possible ballistic missile attacks.
The joint training exercise will serve as preparation for such a scenario and allow the government to demonstrate it is responding to provocations from North Korea.