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The ballistic missile defense system of Japan is maintained

The United States and South Korea began large-scale air defense exercises on Monday, ignoring pleas from Russia and China to suspend annual military exercises in the hope that, in return, North Korea would slow down its weapons programs . The decision indicated that the US. UU And its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan, are losing faith in the prospects for negotiations with the regime in Pyongyang.

"People may ask why we do not relate to North Korea, we have been committed to North Korea for more than 20 years," a Japanese government official told Yahoo News at the Foreign Ministry's headquarters in Kasumigaseki, Tokyo. "Our sincere will to dialogue with North Korea was betrayed, simply."

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week that flew higher and farther than any previous launch, before landing at sea within 200 nautical miles of the coast of Japan The launch challenged the international pressure for the nation to stop the testing of offensive weapons.

The regime of Kim Jong Un said that the new ICBM Hwasong-15 reached an altitude of approximately 2,780 miles and traveled 590 miles during its 53-minute flight. US Defense Secretary James Mattis said Pyongyang was determined to build missiles that could "threaten the entire world, basically."

The Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), the state news agency for North Korea, stated that "advance" ICBM was robust enough to withstand the return to the atmosphere with a warhead and could reach the U.S.

The launch was the first in North Korea since President Trump put the country back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism on November 20. He ended with the fragile hope that the stronger oil sanctions against North Korea would deter him from testing more ballistic missiles. The last exercise of the regime's ballistic missiles before last Tuesday took place on September 15.

North Korea has tested ballistic missiles dozens of times over the past two years, rapidly increasing its range and altitude, creating a high trajectory that is more difficult to intercept.

The country has conducted six nuclear tests since October 2006. The government said that the fifth test, on September 9, 2016, was its first successful test explosion of a nuclear warhead, that is, a bomb that It could be delivered by a missile. After the sixth test, on September 3, 2017, Pyongyang announced that it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of 160 kilotons, 10 times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Accelerated development Weapons of North Korea is one of the main security concerns for one of the closest allies of the United States, Japan. Tokyo is less than 800 miles from Pyongyang. Despite its pacifist ideals, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF) have an established system to counter this threat, if necessary.

The first line of defense depends on coastal warships armed with anti-ballistic missile technology. The US aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin originally designed this technology, known as the Aegis ballistic missile defense system (BMD), for the US Armed Forces. UU Stop missiles of short and medium range from the sea. Nancy Nelson, spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, said it is the most advanced maritime combat system in the world. She said that six allied nations currently use the system: the United States, Japan, Australia, Spain, Norway and the Republic of Korea.

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces operate many ships, but four, in particular, play an important role in missile defense: the "Kongo class destroyers" equipped with the Aegis fire control system. Each boat takes its name from a different Japanese mountain. Start port of Kongo and Chokai in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture; Ports of Myoko in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture; and the ports of origin of Kirishima in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Yosuke Nagata, deputy director of the Strategic Planning Division of the Defense Policy Office of the Ministry of Defense of Japan, said that these ships are equipped with SM-3 missiles, which were designed by US defense contractor Raytheon.

The Japanese Self-Defense Forces have four Kongo class destroyers at sea and several PAC missile launchers to stop the approach of missiles. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News)

A second line of defense consists of ground-based missile launchers that use Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) missiles designed by Lockheed Martin.

"A fire unit consists of five launching stations," Nagata told Yahoo News at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Ichigaya, Tokyo. "Only two are equipped with PAC-3 missiles, three launch stations are designed for PAC-2 missiles that can intercept cruise missiles and [hit] aircraft."

Larger PAC-2 missiles have a longer range and They carry a warhead that can destroy an aircraft. The smaller PAC-3 missiles were designed to destroy ballistic missiles in the final stages of their flight. Although, if necessary, both missiles could be used on an incoming missile or aircraft.

Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control in Grand Prairie, Texas, explained that PAC-3 interceptors use "Hit-to". "Kill technology" to overcome all threats through "body-to-body contact".

The Office of Defense Policy of Japan has launched important programs to improve the capabilities of the defense system based on the National Defense Program Guidelines and the Middle Defense Program, which were approved by the Security Council National and the Cabinet in December 2013.

"We will increase the number of destroyers from four to eight and develop next-generation interceptors for SM-3 missiles [called SM-3 Block IIA]," Nagata said. .

The idea behind the SM-3 Block IIA, which has been in development for about 11 years and should be installed in 2021, is to have something that can counteract the most capable and diverse ballistic missile threats.

Hypotheticall and, he continued, only three BMD ships with current technology are needed to defend the entire territory of Japan. He said the minimum will fall to two BMD ships once the next generation of SM-3 missiles is installed. However, to stay on the safe side, Japan wants to expand its BMD fleet.

The Japanese military also intends to present an updated version of the ground PAC-3 called PAC-3 Missile Segment Improvement, which would travel higher and farther.

The Japanese government is also in talks with the United States. UU to buy the Aegis Ashore system, a ground interceptor that is practically identical to the version installed on ships.

A pitcher fires a PAC-3 MSE, left, and JDS Myoko (DDG-175) conclude an annual exercise in the Philippine Sea, on the right. (Photos: Lockheed Martin / Jimmy C. Pan, US Navy)

Ultimately, Japan relies on the United States nuclear umbrella for deterrence. This is a controversial but possibly necessary policy for the Japanese people. The government is dedicated to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but there are still around 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. It is believed that China, whose relationship with Japan has soured due to disputed claims on uninhabited islands, deployed around 270 nuclear warheads.

The United States forced Japan to renounce war in its 1947 constitution, two years after the end of World War II. The San Francisco Peace Treaty officially ended the Allied occupation led by the United States of Japan when it entered into force in 1952. But the United States was not eager to withdraw US troops in the midst of the Korean War and threats from the United States. Soviet Union and China. Although initially reluctant, Japan signed an additional treaty, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan: the basis for the US military presence in Japan today.

The United States Forces Japan (USFJ), which was established at Fuchu Air of Tokyo Station in 1957, currently consists of approximately 50,000 servicemen. There are also 42,000 dependents, 8,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense (DoD) and 25,000 Japanese workers involved in USFJ.

The objectives of USFJ include protecting Japan, promoting US interests and supporting regional stability. According to the USFJ, there are about 38,000 US soldiers protecting Japan on land and 11,000 at sea. They are stationed at 85 different bases and facilities on Honshu (the main island), Kyushu (the third largest island) and Okinawa (a smaller island of great strategic importance). The US bases UU They cover approximately 77,000 acres.

The United States has seven BMD ships based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture; Radar AN / TPY-2 (designed to detect missiles) in Shrike, Aomori Prefecture and Kyogamisaki, Kyoto Prefecture; and PAC-3 in Kadena, Okinawa Prefecture. Nagata said the early warning information provided by the United States when a ballistic missile is launched into Japan and the data related to the place where the debris falls are fundamental to the success of the BMD system.

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"One day after they launched missiles last March, North Korea claimed it was an exercise aimed at the US base in Japan, and they made a provocative statement that their missile could reach Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. specific cities, "said Ryusuke Wakahoi, deputy director of the Office of Strategic Intelligence Analysis of the Ministry of Defense, to Yahoo News in the Ministry of Defense. "I think we have to develop defense policies that take into account their provocative statements and the expansion of capabilities."

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