Top U.S. cruiser Japan-bound

Aegis ship boasts most advanced missile defense system

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) The U.S. Navy plans to forward-deploy its most advanced missile defense cruiser to Japan later this year, U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Gary Roughead said Tuesday.

The Aegis cruiser USS Shiloh has the most advanced ballistic missile defense system.

The U.S. this summer will conduct its largest naval drills — with four aircraft carrier strike groups — in the Pacific in a decade, Roughead said in a speech to the Asia Society.

The move is in line with the U.S. aim to have a greater military presence in the Pacific, outlined in the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review issued earlier this month.

The QDR sets out the U.S. military position and its strategies for the next 20 years. In it, the Pentagon singled out China as having the “greatest potential” to compete militarily with the United States. It also mentioned the threat from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and terrorism in Southeast Asia.

Roughead told the lunch meeting the 9,600-ton Shiloh will replace a similar ship already in Japan, saying it “will have the most advanced ballistic missile defense capability on board.”

The Shiloh has taken part in the initial flight tests of the advanced Standard Missile-3 defense system.

Japan and the United States are jointly developing a larger, upgraded version of the SM-3 interceptor missiles.