The Defense Ministry plans to equip the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s new Aegis-equipped destroyer Maya with the Standard Missile-6, or SM-6, anti-air missile system to shoot down cruise missiles, according to informed sources.

The ministry included ¥13.2 billion in its fiscal 2019 budget request to acquire the SM-6 interceptors.

The Maya, which has state-of-the-art ballistic missile defense capability, is slated to be commissioned in 2020.

The ministry is promoting an Integrated Air and Missile Defense initiative that will intercept missiles through the integrated use of Aegis vessels, early-warning aircraft, radars and other equipment, mainly in view of the threats posed by cruise missiles owned by China and under development by North Korea. The SM-6 system will be part of the IAMD initiative.

In the budget request, the ministry called for ¥11.1 billion to acquire the SM-6 interceptor missiles and ¥2.1 billion for a launch test.

The Maya plans to carry out an interception test in the United States as early as 2022, the sources said. An SM-6 system will also be installed on another Maya-type ship under construction.

The Maya will also be mounted with a ballistic missile defense system being jointly developed by Japan and the United States.

Furthermore, it will be equipped with the U.S.-developed Cooperative Engagement Capability system, which enables the sharing of information on enemy missile locations among multiple Aegis ships and early-warning aircraft. The CEC system will be used for missile interceptions by the SM-6.

The U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet has deployed a CEC-capable Aegis ship that can launch SM-6 interceptors, at Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture. The launch of the Maya is expected to facilitate information-sharing with U.S. warships and the integrated operability of the SDF and U.S. forces.

The Aegis-based SM-6 system is believed to be used for protecting the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense facilities that may be set up in Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures from cruise missile attacks.

China possesses air-to-surface cruise missiles with a range of 1,500 km that can be armed with nuclear warheads. Last year, a bomber capable of carrying such a missile was spotted flying in airspace between Okinawa Prefecture’s main island and Miyakojima island in southwest Japan toward an area off the Kii Peninsula in central Japan, and passing through the Tsushima Strait off the coast of western Japan.

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