US approves SM-6 sale to Japan

by Jon Grevatt

An SM-6 Block I missile arcs skywards following launch from a US Navy DDG-51 guided-missile destroyer. Japan plans to integrate the missile-defence system onto its Atago-class destroyers. (US Navy)

The US Department of State has approved a request by Japan to procure Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) air-defence missiles for an estimated USD450 million, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced.

It said on 20 October that the proposed Foreign Military Sales (FMS), which requires approval from the Congress, includes 32 SM-6 Block I missiles across two tranches of 16, MK41 vertical launch system (VLS) canisters, and a range of related equipment and services.

The DSCA said that the proposed sale, for which Raytheon Missiles & Defense will be the principal contractor, will “improve Japan's air defence and ballistic missile defence capabilities against potential adversaries in the region”.

“It will also provide the US-Japan security alliance with the latest and most advanced capabilities, reducing Japan's reliance on US forces for the defence of Japan and further improving US-Japan military interoperability,” it added.


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Update – Changing the guard: Concern over US withdrawal of F-15 jets from Okinawa

by Akhil Kadidal

The withdrawal from Okinawa of two USAF squadrons equipped with F-15C Eagles has alarmed US Republican lawmakers who said the move could embolden a militarily resurgent China. (US Air Force photo/Staff Sgt Kyle Johnson)

The withdrawal of two squadrons of US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15C fighter jets from Okinawa has prompted concerns of a decline in US force capability in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) announced the withdrawal in a statement on 28 October. “Starting in November [2022] the Department of Defense will commence a phased withdrawal of F-15 C/D aircraft forward-deployed to Kadena Air Base over the next two years,” the PACAF said.

In their place, the US government has announced a plan to deploy more modern combat aircraft, albeit on a rotational basis. US lawmakers said on 1 November that the F-15C/Ds are “to be replaced initially by fifth-generation [Lockheed Martin] F-22 Raptors in six-month rotations from Alaska”.

The PACAF told Janes that the move to retire the F-15 C/D Eagle fleet has been prompted by “an increasingly severe security environment” around Japan.


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Canada eyes larger defence role in Indo-Pacific

by Marc Selinger

Royal Canadian Navy frigates, including the HMCS Vancouver , have participated in a multinational effort to monitor North Korea's evasion of UN Security Council sanctions. (US Navy)

Canada plans to bolster its military presence and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region amid growing threats from China and North Korea, according to Canadian Minister of National Defence Anita Anand.

The Canadian government will “soon” release a “comprehensive” Indo-Pacific strategy to “position Canada as a leader in promoting peace and security in the region”, Anand told the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 18 November.

Canada's existing military activities in the Indo-Pacific region include deploying Royal Canadian Navy frigates as part of a multinational effort to monitor North Korea's evasion of UN Security Council sanctions. Anand called North Korea's recent barrage of missile tests “unacceptable” and “reckless”.

Anand also indicated at the Halifax forum that her government continues to work on the defence policy review it announced in April. The review is supposed to determine whether the Canadian Armed Forces are adequately sized, equipped, and funded in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.


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RAAF refuels South Korea fighter jet for first time

by Akhil Kadidal

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport refuels a KF-16U Fighting Falcon aircraft of the Republic of Korea Air Force during Exercise ‘Vigilant Storm 23'. (Republic of Korea Air Force)

Weeks after signing a formal arrangement to co-operate on air-to-air refuelling, Australia and South Korea have conducted the first aerial refuel exercise involving military aircraft from both countries.

The Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 15 November that a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) of No 33 Squadron had provided refuelling support to Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) KF-16U fighter aircraft. The DoD said that the support occurred during Exercise ‘Vigilant Storm 23'.

This follows a DoD announcement on 3 November that Seoul and Canberra had agreed to co-operate on air-to-air refuelling in September 2022.

The signatories of the agreement were Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie, air commander Australia, and Lieutenant General Park Ha Sik, commander, RoKAF Operation Command, according to the DoD. In a statement, AVM Goldie said that the agreement was an important step to enhance the partnership between the two air forces.


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The US Department of State has approved a request by Japan to procure Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) air-...

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