In response to Pyongyang’s record-breaking number of missile launches this year, the United States, Japan and South Korea have stepped up efforts to advance their defense capabilities, with Seoul and Tokyo recently testing new missile interceptors and the U.S. Space Force establishing its first unit in the Indo-Pacific region.

The moves came as defense officials from the three countries agreed last month to maintain "effective bilateral and multilateral security cooperation and coordination" to deal with North Korea, which not only continues to test a flurry of weapon systems but has also threatened to deploy tactical nukes in a pre-emptive strike.

To deal with the mounting challenge and enhance its ballistic missile defenses (BMD), Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force completed a series of tests off Hawaii last week that saw it shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missile targets using the SM-3 Block IB and SM-3 Block IIA interceptors.