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Aegis cruiser’s missile interception capability to be improved

  • 2015-06-15 15:00:00
  • , Nikkei
  • Translation

(Nikkei: June 14, 2015 – p.2)

 

 The Defense Ministry is planning to upgrade the missile interception capability of its Aegis cruisers, sources informed Nikkei. The cruiser will be given the capability to simultaneously shoot down a missile flying in space and an anti-ship missile. A system for sharing target information with allied Aegis cruisers and aircraft will also be introduced. The ministry plans to use the new capabilities to protect U.S. warships by exercising the right of collective self-defense.

 

 Currently, the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) has six Aegis cruisers, of which four are used for ballistic missile defense. However, when engaging in the detection of a ballistic missile, the warship is vulnerable to attack by a fighter or an antiship missile. Under the circumstances in which an Aegis cruiser could be attacked by an enemy submarine or fighter, a destroyer needs to guard the Aegis cruiser.

 

 The Defense Ministry is currently overhauling two Aegis cruisers and will hereafter begin building two more. The four Aegis cruisers will have the new system that can shoot down an antiship missile while tracking a ballistic missile. An enhanced computer processing capacity will enable a single Aegis ship to detect an enemy ballistic missile and an antiship missile at the same time. The U.S. developed this system. The U.S. Defense Department announced last November that a test to intercept a short-range ballistic missile and two antiship missiles at the same time by the most advanced Aegis cruiser was successful.

 

 The capability to detect ballistic missiles will also be improved. Currently, three Aegis cruisers need to be deployed to protect the entire Japanese Archipelago from a ballistic missile attack. Taking into consideration the time the Aegis ships are in port for repairs and maintenance,

 four ships will be barely sufficient for this mission. The new system will significantly expand the radar detection range, which will make it possible for two Aegis cruisers to cover all Japan; this will allow greater flexibility in operations.

 

 This will also lead to improved Information sharing with allies. The two new Aegis cruisers scheduled to be built will be capable of sharing information on the location of an enemy missile with allied Aegis ships and early-warning aircraft. This is made possible by a system called Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC). While a conventional Aegis cruiser is able to intercept a missile only when its own radar detects it, the new system will allow the ship to intercept the missile with information from an allied warship even when it cannot detect the target.

 

 One scenario the government adduces as an example of the exercise of the right of collective self-defense is the SDF’s protecting U.S. warships transporting Japanese citizens in the case of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula. With CEC, an MSDF Aegis cruiser can shoot down a missile targeting a U.S. warship. The first new Aegis cruiser will become operational from

 FY2020.

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