Japan wants to manufacture elements of an advanced anti-ballistic missile (ABM) in an un-named joint US-Japanese team. The missile has been studied since 1999 and would replace the Raytheon Standard SM-3 ABM due for initial purchase in 2004. Service entry would not be for several years, writes Brendan Sobie.

Earlier this year, Japan unveiled a plan to begin purchasing ballistic missile defence systems as part of a defence strategy likely to result in reduced spending for military aircraft.

The Japan Defence Agency (JDA) says it is seeking ¥142 billion ($1.3 billion) in the 2004 budget to acquire US-manufactured missiles and another ¥81 billion for development of the joint navy theatre-wide defence system. This is expected to be approved in the next few weeks.

The JDA has already spent around ¥156 billion on the missile research programme over the past five years and would like production to involve Japanese aerospace companies. A US manufacturer would probably retain prime contractorship, with Japanese companies supplying components. Japan may exempt the missile from its weapons exports ban to enable US deployment.

Japan is preparing to purchase SM-3 ship-based and Lockheed Martin Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) ground-based anti-ballistic missiles over the next two to three years, for deployment in three to five years.

Source: Flight International