Japanese radar stations and Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) failed to track some of North Korea's short-range missiles launched in recent months due to their low altitudes of less than 60km and irregular trajectories.
“This raises concern over Tokyo’s defense capabilities. North Korea could be attempting to break through Japan’s existing missile defense network,” Japan Times reported, quoting sources as saying on Monday.
“Some of the missiles managed to escape detection by the MSDF’s Aegis-equipped destroyer in the Sea of Japan as well as radar deployed in Japan and operated by the Air Self-Defense Force,” the sources said.
Japan is considering operating two or more Aegis-equipped destroyers to cover low altitudes as well as strengthening its radar functions, the sources said.
Seoul’s decision to terminate an intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo is also likely to fuel Japan’s concerns, as the missiles Japan failed to track were apparently successfully detected by the South Korean military.
Japan’s inability to detect missiles that could land in the country at an early stage would make it difficult to intercept them or take necessary steps — such as issuing evacuation warnings — with adequate speed.
According to the Defense Ministry in Tokyo and the South Korean military, the projectiles launched during the period included the KN-23, a new type of a short-range ballistic missile, a missile resembling the US’ Army Tactical Missile and multiple launch rocket artillery.
“The KN-23 is similar to an advanced ballistic missile manufactured in Russia, is capable of reaching Japan. The missile is known to have an irregular trajectory,” the sources said.
Pyongyang’s test-firing and launching of new ballistic missiles has continued despite UN Security Council resolutions’ ban.