Tokyo, Japan. With tensions at fever pitch in the Sea of Japan over a potential missile strike, Japanese leaders go shopping for a new defense system with only one winner-US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, who makes both systems.
Japanese defense officials are leaning towards choosing the Aegis Ashore missile-defence system over another advanced system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), government and ruling party sources said.
Confronted with the threat of North Korea’s rapid missile and nuclear development, and its destructive potential, Japan has been looking into introducing a new missile-defence system, either the THAAD or the Aegis Ashore, a land-based version of the Aegis system developed for war ships.
Lockheed Martin Corp produces both systems.
The Japanese Defense Ministry now favours the Aegis Ashore system as it comes with a wider coverage area, which would mean fewer units needed to protect Japan, and it is also cheaper, three government and two ruling party sources said.
One Aegis Ashore system costs about $618 million-$706 million dollars, while a THAAD unit costs more than 1 billion dollars, defense analysts report. The introduction of Aegis Ashore would help reduce the burden of round-the-clock vigilance shouldered by Japanese warships equipped with the Aegis systems currently parked offshore, defense specialists state.
The final decision on the new system will come soon, after sending, possibly this month, an inspection team to Hawaii, where American forces operate Aegis Ashore test facilities, Japanese officials said.
Tags: Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK); Japan; Japan-US ties; Japan's Defense Ministry; Japan's Self-Defense Forces; North Korean missile; sea of Japan; US-Japanese relations; weapons sales; weapons supply