Japan to develop infrared-equipped UAV as part of BMD shield
By James Hardy
Japan will develop an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) fitted with an infrared (IR) sensor to cover a gap in its ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, according to the Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) budget request.
The MoD has requested JPY3 billion (USD37.6 million) for the system after its existing BMD system, which comprises land-based early warning radars and Aegis-equipped destroyers fitted with RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) systems, failed to pick up North Korea's failed launch of a satellite launch vehicle (SLV) on 13 April.
The North Korean SLV failed to reach sufficient altitude to appear on Japanese screens, which the MoD interpreted as a potential hole in its BMD coverage.
The details of the UAV system were included in an expanded version of the FY13 budget request published in early November, which also states that funds have been requested to "conduct research on an E-UAV [endurance unmanned aerial vehicle] that enables detection from high altitude with [a] high-performance infrared sensor that can detect a ballistic missile launch".
The planned UAVs would operate over the Sea of Japan at an altitude of 13,500 m (44,300 ft), with a prototype designed by the end of 2014 and deployment scheduled for 2020-21.198 of 358 words
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