On Sept. 29, the government started making arrangements to utilize the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) to operate the facilities in the “offshore [missile defense] plan” it is considering adopting as an alternative to the plan to introduce the Aegis Ashore land-based missile shield. The move is aimed at reducing the burden on the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF), which manages the Aegis vessels. Aegis vessels are equipped with SM3 interceptor missiles.
Multiple sources connected to the government disclosed the news. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) presented to the ruling parties three specific options for the plan to install a radar and missile launcher on an offshore facility — (1) a Self-Defense Force (SDF) destroyer, (2) a private commercial ship, (3) and a floating facility like an oil rig — and will make a decision by year-end.
All of the options were thought to place excessive burden on the MSDF, whose members would operate the facility. For this reason, the MOD decided to utilize the GSDF to operate the new facility as this branch of the SDF was scheduled to operate the radar and missile launcher in the Aegis Ashore scenario.
The MOD began offering maritime training to GSDF officers in fiscal 2019. It plans to leverage this training in the operation of the alternative facility.