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U.S. Moves to Boost Japan’s Missile Shield


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U.S. Moves to Boost Japan’s Missile Shield

By REUTERS, WASHINGTON

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The Pentagon notified Congress June 29 of a proposed sale to Tokyo of nine more sea-based missiles and related gear valued at up to $387 million to strengthen Japan’s fledgling ballistic missile shield.

 

The nine SM-3 Block IA Standard missiles, built by Raytheon Co., are the second batch requested by Tokyo in recent months.

 

They would be used on Japanese ships equipped with high-technology AEGIS combat systems built by Lockheed Martin Corp. One such Aegis weapon system would be upgraded for ballistic-missile defense under the new proposed sale, the Defense Department said.

 

 

 

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which handles U.S. government-to-government arms sales, acknowledged that no comparable weapons were currently deployed in Japan’s neighborhood.

 

Traditional U.S. policy is to shun becoming the first country to introduce a higher level of military technology into a region so as to avoid an arms race.

 

“Although comparable weapons are not currently deployed in Northwest Asia, the proposed sale of SM-3 missiles and (ballistic missile defense) upgrades to the AEGIS Weapon System will not significantly alter the existing military balance in the region as the proposed sale enhances only defensive capabilities,” the arms-sale agency said.

 

Japan is a key U.S. ally in ensuring the region’s peace and stability, it added. The notice cited Japan’s agreement to provide fuel and logistic support to U.S. allied ships involved in the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and its deployment of an AEGIS destroyer to the Indian Ocean.

 

On May 5, the Pentagon notified Congress of the proposed sale to Japan of an initial nine SM-3 Block 1A Standard missiles, upgrades to one AEGIS weapons system and an AEGIS ballistic missile defense vertical launch system valued at as much as $725 million.

 

Japan has four AEGIS destroyers operating with older SM-2 missiles at sea. A fifth and sixth AEGIS destroyers are under construction. Together with the Japanese Self Defense Forces’ PAC-3 Patriot missiles the upgraded AEGIS weapons systems and Standard missiles make up an initial anti-missile bulwark for mainland Japan, the Pentagon said.

 

In addition to Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, a principal contractor would be United Defense Industries, Inc., a newly acquired arm of Britain’s BAE Systems Plc, it said.

 

The notice of such a sale is required by U.S. law. It does not mean the sale has been concluded. Also, Congress retains potential blocking power.

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