Japan to hold drills deploying missile interceptors at U.S. bases

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-25 17:37:38|Editor: Yurou
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TOKYO, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) will hold drills deploying missile interceptors at three U.S. military bases here to prepare for any contingencies stemming from heightened tensions in the Korean Peninsula, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Friday.

"The drills will contribute to further strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance," Onodera told a press briefing on the matter.

The Defense Ministry said the exercises will take place at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture in Japan's southwest, next Tuesday.

On Sept. 7, similar drills will be held at the Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in northern Japan, the ministry also said.

Such drills would mark the first time that exercises deploying missile interceptors have been held at U.S. bases in Japan, the Def Ministry said.

The ministry has already deployed ASDF PAC-3 missile interceptors in parts of western Japan.

PAC-3 surface-to-air missile defense systems are a second line of defense that have the capability of intercepting missiles at lower altitudes as they reenter the earth's atmosphere.

Japan's first line of defense against inbound missiles would be its Aegis advanced radar-equipped destroyers.

The Aegis system is designed to intercept missiles that are flying outside of the earth's atmosphere, with the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF)'s Aegis destroyers charged with targeting them with their Standard Missile-3 interceptors.

The ministry also plans to install a defense system made in the United States known as "Aegis Ashore" to address ongoing concerns about tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The "Aegis Ashore" is a land-based version of the Aegis advanced radar system and uses the same technology as those fitted to MSDF's Aegis destroyers.

The "Aegis Ashore" system consists of equipment including SPY-1 radars and a battery of Standard Missile-3s.

The ministry is also planning to buy another Aegis-equipped destroyer, from the end of last year, to the end of March 2018, it has said.

Once the acquisition has been made, the MSDF will have a total of 5 Aegis-equipped destroyers by the end of this year, the ministry said.

Besides, the ministry is to set up a new kind of radar system to defend satellites used by Japan and the United States, among other things, to detect ballistic missiles, from "space debris" it has said.

The new "space unit," the ministry said, will operate under the auspices of the Self-Defense Force.