The Japanese government will likely deploy a new missile intercept system on two new Aegis-equipped destroyers that is capable of exchanging data between the warships, a Japanese news outlet reports Thursday.
According to Yomiuri Shimbun who quoted government sources as saying that the new intercept system will improve the ability of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis vessels to protect the nation if North Korea launches a wave of ballistic missiles. It is expected to enter operational service in 2019-2020 at a cost of about ¥170 billion (USD 1.5B) each, the report says.
The sources said this US-built information exchange system, called “engage on remote”, would share radar information from one Aegis warship stationed in the Sea of Japan, with another Aegis vessel stationed elsewhere. This second Aegis destroyer will target a missile and fire an interceptor based on radar information provided by another Aegis vessel closer to the missile launch site.
The Japanese government is aiming at having the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and U.S. Navy Aegis vessels share targeting information through this new system. The report further said the U.S. Navy plans to steadily introduce the engage-on-remote system to its Aegis vessels.
Japan will have a fleet of eight Aegis destroyers in 2020, following the construction of new ships and upgrades to others. The two land-based Aegis Ashore units that will start operating from about fiscal 2023 are also likely to be linked to the new system, the sources added.
In fiscal 2021, Japan will start deploying new SM-3 Block IIA interceptors with a range of about 2,000 kilometers — triple the range of SM-3 missiles. Combining these new interceptors with the new system will enable Aegis destroyers stationed at a distance to shoot down missiles fired toward Japan.