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ASDF holds PAC-3 missile defense drill in Tokyo after spate of North Korean launches

JIJI

The Air Self-Defense Force carried out a quick deployment drill for its Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, missile interceptors in Tokyo on Wednesday, in order to maintain readiness for missile defense operations.

The drill, held at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, followed a series of ballistic missile firings by North Korea. On Oct. 2, North Korea fired a ballistic missile built to be launched from a submarine into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Defense Minister Taro Kono, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and other officials observed the exercise.

Under Japan’s current two-tier missile defense system, interceptors installed on Aegis destroyers are used to shoot down missiles in outer space, while ground-based PAC-3 batteries can be deployed to intercept missiles at altitudes of over 10 kilometers in case the Aegis system fails to destroy them.

Wednesday’s drill was attended by a 30-strong unit of the ASDF’s 1st Air Defense Missile Group stationed in the city of Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, along with 15 vehicles. Unit members carried out procedures such as setting up radar equipment and interceptor launchers.

“We always need to mobilize (the missile defense system) swiftly, at any place,” Takasuke Maeda, the captain of the unit who directed the exercise, told reporters.

The drill to deploy PAC-3 in an urban area was the first since one held at the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park in the city of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, in October 2013.

In Tokyo, PAC-3 drills were held at Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden in Shinjuku Ward in 2010 and at the Kasai Rinkai Park in Edogawa Ward in 2012.