TOKYO, Sept 17 (KUNA) -- Japan's Defense Ministry is considering
strengthening its missile defense system to counter the threat posed by North
Korea's long-range ballistic missile development program, a major Japanese
business daily reported Tuesday.
Specifically, the ministry will study the possibility of introducing a
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, the Nikkei Shimbun said,
adding that the ministry earmarked funds for the study in its budget request
for the fiscal year starting in April 2014. THAAD systems, which are used by
the US military, are designed to intercept enemy missiles immediately after
they re-enter the atmosphere.
Japan's missile defense system currently comprises ship-based Standard
Missile-3 (SM-3) missile interceptors, and land-based Patriot Advanced
Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors.
The country's current missile-defense protocol calls for Maritime
Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyers equipped with SM-3 missile interceptors to
shoot down enemy missiles in outer space.
Enemy missiles that make it through that line of defense are to be shot
down in the atmosphere with PAC-3 missile interceptors.
A THAAD system would add another stage, sandwiched between the SM-3 and
PAC-3 stages, reducing the chances of enemy missiles reaching their targets.
The ministry will also consider introducing land-based SM-3 missile
interceptors, the newspaper added. (end)
KUNA 171230 Sep 13NNNN