Successful PAC-3 Flight Test
The launching of a PAC-3 missile.
The Air Self-Defense Force conducted a flight test of the Patriot system (PAC-3)—a system upgraded with ballistic missile defense capabilities—at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, United States, at 7:55 a.m. local time on September 17, 2008 (10:55 p.m. Japan time). Two PAC-3 missiles were launched and successfully intercepted a simulated ballistic missile target.
It was the first PAC-3 flight test conducted by a country other than the United States. A unit of approximately 80 personnel conducted the test to confirm the comprehensive functions of the Patriot PAC-3 system from detection and tracking to interception.
Japan's Ballistic Missile Defense
While various efforts have been made by the international community in recent years for the nonproliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, such threats continue to exist. Against this background, Japan has been making efforts for the early deployment of a ballistic missile defense (BMD) system that is most suitable for Japan's exclusively defense-oriented policy.
Japan's BMD system is a multi-tier defense system comprising upper-tier interception by the Aegis BMD System and lower-tier interception by the Patriot PAC-3 System. The capabilities of the Aegis destroyers and Patriot systems currently maintained by the SDF have been and will be improved. The entire system consists of these weapons, high performance sensors, and command, control, battle management, and communications systems, which effectively coordinate the weapons and sensors.
Recent History of BMD Initiatives in Japan
- Apr. 1995
- JDA commences BMD study (possible BMD architecture, cost estimation, other issues)
- Dec. 2003
- GOJ decides on the introduction of BMD system
- June 2006
- The Standard Missile–3 Block IIA Cooperative Development (SCD) Project (US-Japan) is commenced
- Mar. 2007
- The Patriot PAC-3 is deployed at Iruma Air Base (Japan's first interceptor in history)
- Dec. 2007
- Kongo successfully conducts the first SM-3 flight test (Japan's first SM-3 capability)
- Sept. 2008
- The first successful PAC-3 flight test
Outline of the Patriot PAC-3 System
The Patriot system is a surface-to-air missile system that intercepts incoming ballistic missiles at the terminal phase (between reentry into the atmosphere and impact). It was introduced in Japan in 1993. The Patriot PAC-3 system is an upgraded version with capabilities of firing PAC-3 missiles, which can intercept ballistic missiles.
The Patriot PAC-3 system consists of a radar set, interceptor Missile Launchers, fire control system, and a communications system. It is a mobile system that can be deployed to appropriate locations in response to various situations. It was deployed in March 2007 at the Iruma Air Base for the first time, and it is now deployed at five bases.
The Kongo flight test of SM-3 missiles.
Outline of the Aegis BMD System
The Aegis BMD system is designed to intercept incoming ballistic missiles at the midcourse phase while outside the atmosphere. The MOD has been conducting modifications to its Aegis destroyers one by one to incorporate BMD capabilities and also acquiring SM-3 missiles.
The first modified Aegis destroyer was the Kongo
, which conducted a flight test of SM-3 missiles in the sea off Hawaii’s Kauai Island and successfully intercepted a simulated ballistic missile target in December 2007. A similar test is scheduled to be conducted by the Chokai
, the second modified destroyer, in November 2008.
The Future of Ballistic Missile Defense
The MOD intends to continue efforts to deploy the BMD system as soon as possible. The immediate objective is to build up by March 2012 a system that incorporates four Aegis destroyers equipped with BMD capabilities and 16 Patriot PAC-3 fire units and other systems.
At the same time, the Ministry of Defense has been making efforts to enhance BMD capabilities, such as through joint Japan-US development of upgraded interceptor missiles, and continuously working to strengthen Japan-US BMD cooperation.
We added ¥76 billion for the early procurement of PAC-3 missile and ¥66 billion for the improvement of EP-3 in FY2007 supplementary budget