Mon, Nov 27, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Japan to receive two extra US interceptor warships

AFP , TOKYO

The US plans to deploy two additional AEGIS warships with the ability to shoot down ballistic missiles at its naval base in the Japanese port of Yokosuka, a newspaper said yesterday.

The planned deployment, part of the missile defense initiative being jointly pursued by Tokyo and Washington, was recently agreed by Japan and the US, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

The move comes in response to North Korea's launch of missiles in July and its nuclear test last month, the paper said.

The US Navy has had one AEGIS warship capable of intercepting missiles stationed in Japan since August.

The system involves shooting Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors from AEGIS warships to take out ballistic missiles launched by an enemy.

Under the plan, the US military will temporarily move two of its AEGIS warships currently deployed in Yokosuka to Hawaii or the American mainland by the end of this year. They will then mount SM-3s on the warships, it said. The two ships will then return to service at Yokosuka early next year.

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