Japan plans Aegis-fleet upgrade to defend US ships
TOKYO — Japan’s Defense Ministry plans to expand and upgrade its fleet of Aegis-equipped destroyers with a system that will vastly enhance its effectiveness against missile attack.
Two Aegis destroyers will be built with an upgraded version of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system. © Kyodo
Under the ministry’s plan, two destroyers will be built with an upgraded version of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system that is capable of shooting down high-altitude ballistic missiles and low-altitude anti-ship missiles simultaneously. Two existing destroyers will be retrofitted with the system.
The ministry also plans to introduce a sophisticated communications system that allows its Aegis destroyers and aircraft to share information on enemy targets for more coordinated and effective anti-missile operations.
The enhanced missile defense capabilities are intended in part for the defense of U.S. vessels in scenarios falling under the umbrella of collective self-defense.
Four of the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s six Aegis destroyers are equipped with the Aegis BMD system, which allows them to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.
While using this system, however, a destroyer is vulnerable to attack by anti-ship missiles or combat planes. Escort vessels must thus be deployed to guard a destroyer conducting missile defense operations in areas where such attacks are likely.
The computer system at the heart of the upgraded BMD system will have enough processing power to deal with both types of missiles, obviating the need for escort ships.