YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Pref. – The Aegis-equipped cruiser USS Shiloh, which can intercept ballistic missiles, arrived Tuesday to take up new duties at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka.
The 9,957-ton cruiser, which left its home port of San Diego, will replace the USS Chancellorsville and be forward-deployed at the base to reinforce Japanese-U.S. missile defenses.
Other U.S. Aegis warships stationed in Japan can track missiles but cannot shoot them down.
The Shiloh successfully intercepted a warhead from a medium-range ballistic missile using a Standard Missile-3 interceptor in a test off Hawaii in June.
“She (the Shiloh) complements the state of the art X-band radar just installed in northern Japan and the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles arriving in Okinawa,” said Joseph Donovan, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, at the arrival ceremony at the base.
Tokyo and Washington are proceeding with setting up a two-step missile defense system in Japan in which an incoming ballistic missile is first dealt with by firing SM-3 interceptors from Aegis ships at sea and, if that fails, firing PAC-3 missiles from the ground.
The Shiloh deployment follows North Korea’s test-firing of seven missiles, including a Taepodong-2, on July 5.
The two-stage version of Taepodong is believed to be capable of reaching Guam, Hawaii, Alaska and the U.S. West Coast; a three-stage missile could target all of North America.