WASHINGTON – The United States is considering deploying another radar system in the Western Pacific in response to North Korea’s firing of ballistic missiles last month, according to a U.S. Defense Department official.
It would be the second mobile X-band radar for an advanced early warning system to be deployed around Japan after one installed at the Air Self-Defense Force’s Shariki base in Tsugaru, Aomori Prefecture.
The four candidate sites for the second radar are in the south, in Kyushu and Okinawa as well as in South Korea and on Guam, the official said.
The Bush administration plans to talk to Japan with a view to accelerating the joint buildup of a ballistic missile defense shield to counter Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile threats, the official said.
Using a radio frequency of X-band range, the radar system is capable of identifying and tracking ballistic missiles.
According to the official, the second radar will be located in the southern part of the region in a bid to expand the scope of tracking North Korean missiles in combination with the one in Aomori in northern Japan.
Among the candidate sites, the chances are higher for Kyushu and South Korea because they are closer to North Korea than Okinawa and Guam, the official said.
The radar system at Aomori was deployed as part of a U.S.-Japan agreement in May on realigning U.S. forces in Japan. Test runs on it began in late June.
Also to help reinforce the joint missile defense project, which began after North Korea fired a ballistic missile in August 1998, the U.S. Navy will forward-deploy the Aegis-equipped cruiser USS Shiloh this month to the Yokosuka base in Kanagawa Prefecture.
It will join eight other Aegis destroyers, most of them upgraded to serve missile defense missions.