Tue, Jul 31, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Japan picks Lockheed radar for defense

Reuters, TOKYO

Japan yesterday said it picked Lockheed Martin to build a powerful new US$1.2 billion radar system for two ground-based Aegis ballistic missile defense stations meant to guard against North Korean missile strikes.

“By using this new radar, we will increase our ability to cope with missiles on lofted trajectories raising the level of ballistic missile defense,” Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera said.

The decision is the latest sign that Japan is forging ahead with plans to reinforce its defenses despite a North Korean pledge to denuclearize. The purchase could also help Tokyo ease trade friction with Washington as its key ally threatens to impose tariffs on Japanese auto imports.

The two radars would cost about ¥130 billion (US$1.17 billion) each, with maintenance and other operational costs putting the estimated budget at the two sites over 30 years at ¥466 billion, a Ministry of Defense news release said.

The radar decision means that Aegis Ashore can be added to a defense budget proposal slated for release next month ahead of any meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump in September, when Abe is expected to attend the UN in New York.

Trump has cranked up pressure on Tokyo with tariffs on steel and threats of levies on car imports, although during a visit to Tokyo in November he welcomed Japan’s procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters and urged Japan to buy more US weapons and “billions and billions of dollars of additional products of all kinds.”

The Aegis Ashore radar choice was between Raytheon’s Spy-6 radar, designed to upgrade the US Navy’s fleet of Aegis warships, and a version of Lockheed Martin’s Long Range Discrimination Radar, which is to be deployed in the US’ Ground-Based Midcourse Defense missile system in Alaska in 2020.

Both radars have far greater ranges than current Aegis radars operated by Japan or the US.

Japan needs more powerful detection so that its new longer-range interceptor missiles can provide a more effective defense against North Korean launches and any potential threat from China.

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