Two guided missile destroyers with the U.S. Navy’s latest ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems will be added to the service’s forward deployed forces in Japan by 2017, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced late Thursday.
USS Benfold (DDG-65) and USS Milius (DDG-69) — both currently homeported at Naval Station San Diego, Calif. — will relocate to Yokosuka, Japan in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
In addition to the two ships, the service will swap USS Lassen (DDG-82) with USS Barry (DDG-52) in 2016 as part of the Yokosuka Forward Deployed Naval Forces (FDNF). Barry is currently based at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and Lassen and its crew will return to Naval Station Mayport, Fla.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced in April the Navy would plus up its BMD presence in Japan by two ships.
“Barry, Benfold and Milius will all complete a midlife modernization, making them among the most capable ships of their class,” read the statement.
The trio of ships will be among the first Arleigh Burke destroyers to feature the Navy’s Aegis Baseline 9 upgrade — a significant upgrade in a ship’s ability to handle BMD and traditional air warfare threats.
The upgrade increases the processing power for the ship’s computers to handle more complicated BMD threats and includes a signal processor upgrade to more easily switch between traditional Anti-Air Warfare and BMD missions.
“These U.S. BMD-capable forces, combined with the sea-based missile defense systems operated by their counterparts in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as well as the new TPY-2 radar at Kyogamisaki scheduled to start operations later this year, provide the U.S.-Japan alliance a regionally responsive missile defense capability,” read the statement.
“They also represent a significant improvement in capability and will provide the FDNF with greater capacity in all mission areas.”
Other moves in the works include relocating Nimitz-class carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) to Japan — replacing the current FDNF carrier USS George Washington (CVN-73).