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AUSA 2021: Japan seeking more military co-development work with US DoD

An SM-3 Block IA missile launches from JS Kirishima . (US Navy)

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has asked the US Department of Defense (DoD) to consider areas for new co-development work, ranging from acquisition programmes to science and technology (S&T) projects, the Pentagon's chief technology officer said on 12 October.

“They're interested in hypersonics, they're interested in quantum; and out of the wide spectrum of their interests we agreed to have a follow-up meeting to try to flesh out, out of their multitude of interest areas, how shall we move forward in co-development,” Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defence for research and engineering (OUSD(R&E)), told reporters at the annual Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC.

Shyu noted that Japan co-operates with the Pentagon on one development programme already, although she did not name the programme.

Japan has eight ballistic missile defence-capable destroyers with the Aegis combat system, and has co-operated with the United States in developing technologies for the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA interceptor, with Japan providing money and technology work via a co-operative research effort under a US-Japan memorandum of agreement signed in 1999.

“What they're looking for is a follow on, something else,” Shyu said. “I went through my strategic thrust areas … to try to get a better understanding of what are their priorities.”

She said the Japanese MoD is interested in setting up “a separate S&T forum, not just focused on acquisition, but also an S&T forum for increased collaboration”. OUSD(R&E)'s international team is now working with the MoD on potential ideas.

“Next year they invited me to Japan to literally review the work that is being done this year, so I'll be staying engaged, Shyu noted.

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