Japan to launch U.S. missile killer
Japan will conduct the first test launch of its SM-3 missile interceptor, the same U.S.-developed system that has been tested in Kauai waters for the past five years, the Japanese Defense Ministry has confirmed.
The mass-circulation Yomiuri newspaper reported that the test, scheduled for December, would be conducted off Hawaii.
The test of the SM-3 system, using the U.S. Navy and Missile Defense Agency's Aegis sea-based tracking system, will use a Japanese Kongo-class destroyer, a ministry spokesman said Thursday.
The destroyer, currently undergoing remodeling to be equipped with the SM-3 missile, will be ready soon, he added. The official spoke on condition of anonymity under ministry protocol.
Japan participated last year in a U.S. Navy missile launch test off Kauai's Pacific Missile Range Facility, but it involved only the tracking of targets fired by the USS Lake Erie, an Aegis cruiser.
Tokyo and Washington have been jointly developing an advanced missile defense system. Japan deployed its first advanced U.S.-developed Patriot missiles this year, and plans to introduce the SM-3 interceptors on its destroyers over the next few years, including one later this year.
North Korea has conducted a number of recent tests of missiles that could potentially target Japan.
The Aegis system already is deployed on a half-dozen U.S. ships, with 18 expected to have the system by 2009.
The system also is being fitted for use on destroyers from South Korea, Norway, Spain and Australia.