Japan has announced that it will enhance its missile defense system against potential threats from North Korea’s growing missile capabilities. This follows a massive military parade in the North Korean capital Pyongyang on October 10 that saw the unveiling of a new, lengthened intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), as well as improved submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
“In order to respond to threats that are diversifying and complex, we will firmly work to strengthen our comprehensive missile deterrence capability,” said the Japanese government’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato. “We understand that some of those missiles are said to make it difficult for us to respond with our [existing] conventional equipment.”
Japanese media have also reported that the government is looking to finalize a new missile defense plan that would replace the Aegis Ashore System. This was scrapped in June due to the rising costs associated with ensuring that the SM-3 Blk IIA missile’s falling booster section would not endanger the local populace.
In the most recent budget request for the next fiscal year, the Japanese defense ministry has sought for an all-time high of 5.5 trillion yen ($52 billion) to spend in areas such as space, cyber defense, electronic warfare, as well as air defense systems. This includes a satellite constellation system to detect and track hypersonic glide vehicle systems, 15.3 billion yen to equip the newly-inducted Kawasaki RC-2 electronic warfare aircraft, and another 22.4 billion yen to improve the capability of the Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment (JADGE). 39.1 billion yen will be used for the acquisition of MIM-104 Patriot PAC-3 MSE missile systems and another 12.3 billion to upgrade the domestically-built Type-03 medium-range surface-to-air missile, all of which will be part of the network of land-based firing units defending against incoming ICBM/SLBMs.
Also on the shopping list are four Lockheed Martin F-35As fighters, two F-35Bs, three Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, a ShinMaywa US-2 amphibian, as well as improvement programs for the Mitsubishi/Boeing F-15J, Mitsubishi F-2, and Kawasaki/Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion.