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Japan decides to delay THAAD deployment for its high cost

Japan decides to delay THAAD deployment for its high cost

Posted June. 24, 2017 07:12,   

Updated June. 24, 2017 07:19


The Asahi Shimbun reported on Friday that the Japanese Defense Ministry decided to delay the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and seek funding in the fiscal 2018 budget for a land-based Aegis missile defense system (Aegis Ashore).

The Japanese government has been looking into introducing a new missile-defense layer, either the THAAD or the Aegis Ashore to strengthen defensive capabilities against a possible ballistic missile attack by North Korea. It appears that the decision came due to cost and efficiency considerations. Present cost estimates for the Aegis Ashore system have one unit priced at about 80 billion yen (819.5 billion won). If the "Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block 2A," which is now jointly developed by the U.S. and Japan, is used in the Aegis Ashore system, all of Japan could theoretically be covered with two units. However, the unit cost of THAAD is over 100 billion yen (1.236 trillion won) and about six launchers should be deployed around Japan to protect the entire land.

Currently, Japan has the two-stage ballistic missile defense system. the Aegis destroyers carry SM3 interceptor that can shoot down ballistic missiles outside the Earth’s atmosphere. If the SM-3 fails to hit its target, the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) surface-to-air missiles can shoot down the incoming missile after it re-enters the atmosphere from dozens of kilometers away.

The Japanese Defense Ministry will discuss the issue in final at the Unified Mobile Defense Force in National Security Council next month. Also, the Japanese military is now negotiating with the U.S. forces for Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada’s visit and inspection on an Aegis Ashore experimental facility in Hawaii next month.

Young-A Soh sya@donga.com