Japanese ship to participate in U.S. missile test off Kauai
For the first time, a Japanese destroyer will participate in a U.S. anti-ballistic missile test off Kauai's Barking Sands facility today.
The Navy said the Japanese guided-missile destroyer Kirishima will be stationed off the Pacific Missile Range Facility, "performing long-range surveillance and tracking."
Today, the San Diego-based cruiser USS Shiloh will fire a Standard Missile 3 and try to intercept a drone missile midcourse in its flight northeast of Kauai fired from the facility.
It will be the eighth attempt at a missile intercept. Six of the previous seven flight tests had been successful with missiles fired from the Pearl Harbor-based cruiser USS Lake Erie.
Last month, the Lake Erie used a Standard Missile 3 to hit a drone missile in the last minutes of its flight.
In previous tests, the Lake Erie successfully intercepted target missiles as soon as they were launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
The interceptor is part of the Missile Defense Agency's multibillion-dollar program to protect the United States and its allies from an enemy missile attack.
Japan also participated in a March test when it provided the clamshell nose cone that was incorporated into the interceptor missile. That trial marked the first U.S. missile defense flight test using Japanese parts.
Today's test comes while the United States has activated its ground-based interceptor missile systems in Alaska and California because the North Koreans are said to be preparing to launch a Taepodong missile.
As part of the U.S. anti-ballistic missile shield, two Navy Aegis warships -- similar to the Lake Erie and the Shiloh -- are now patrolling the water near North Korea. However, these two destroyers are only equipped with sophisticated radar systems and do not have the interceptor missiles being tested on Kauai.
The Navy is installing missile tracking radar and intercept missiles on 18 of its Pacific Fleet warships, to be completed by 2009.
In today's test, the Shiloh will attempt to detect and track a missile fired from Barking Sands with its SPY-1B radar.
The North Korea Taepodong missile was first tested in 1998 over northern Japan.