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Japan to build two new Aegis-equipped destroyers as alternatives to land-based BMD systems

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said on 9 December that Tokyo has decided to build two more Aegis-equipped guided-missile destroyers following its decision to cancel the deployment of two Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems.

The minister explained the plan during separate defence and security affairs meetings held with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner Komeito.

The Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) decision came after an interim report commissioned by the private sector concluded that acquiring additional destroyers equipped with Aegis BMD systems is the best of three alternatives being considered by the MoD not only in terms of capabilities but also manoeuvrability.

The MoD had also contemplated using large private-sector merchant ships as BMD platforms or building offshore structures similar to oil rigs to house the systems.

Kishi, who received consent from the attendees to proceed with the plan, told LDP lawmakers that the ministry will begin procedures to build two more destroyers for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis-equipped fleet.

According to Japanese media, the ministry aims to win Cabinet approval for the plan around mid-December, possibly on 18 December.

On 25 June then-Japanese Defence Minister Tarô Kôno said Tokyo had decided to cancel the planned deployment of Aegis Ashore, citing concerns about where the rocket booster for the interceptor missile could fall.

He pointed out, however, that the move did not amount to an “outright cancellation”, with the MoD planning to use the system’s missile-tracking radar and other equipment already ordered under the now-cancelled Aegis Ashore project to avoid penalty fees.

A truck-mounted launcher used for the JGSDF’s Type 12 SSM system. (JGSDF)

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