The Japanese government has selected Lockheed Martin to outfit its defense forces with Aegis Ashore equipment worth an estimated $2.34 billion, according to media reports.
The selection of Lockheed Martin was announced Monday by Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s Minister of Defense, and was first reported by Reuters. The radar system will increase Japan’s ability to defend against missiles launched toward the nation, Onodera told reporters.
The deal includes the purchase of two Aegis Ashore radars, which will cost about $1.17 billion each. Maintenance and other operational costs at the two Aegis Ashore sites are estimated to bring the entire project cost up to $4.2 billion over the course of 30 years, according to media reports.
The first site could go online as soon as 2023, USNI News understands.
Acknowledging the announcement was made by Japan’s government, Lockheed Martin officials were quick to point out the deal is not official yet, and because part of the award falls under the Foreign Military Sales program, run by U.S. Department of State, the contract still requires U.S. congressional approval.
“Lockheed Martin stands ready to support the Japan Ministry of Defense and the United States in delivering our solid-state radar solution, which will greatly increase the operational performance, efficiency and reliability of the two Aegis Ashore Japan installations. For the past 25 years, Lockheed Martin has partnered with Japan on Aegis to fulfill their missile defense mission, and we look forward to continuing to support the nation’s security with Aegis Ashore,” read a statement Lockheed Martin provided to USNI News on Monday.
Japan was reportedly considering buying either the Raytheon-built AN/SPY-6(V) radar or the Lockheed Martin-built Long Range Discrimination Radar, according to media accounts. The reaction by Japan’s media was critical of the deal, with editorials expressing concerns with the technology rumored to have been selected and whether this deal is something the nation needs.
If Japan has selected the Lockheed Martin-manufactured Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) to support its Aegis Ashore program, then the nation, “has chosen expected economy over ease of integration and demonstrated operational capability,” Lt. Gen. Dan Leaf (ret.), former U.S. Pacific Command deputy commander, wrote in an opinion piece for the Japan Times.
Future U.S. Navy ships, including new guided-missile destroyers, will be outfitted with the AN/SPY-6(V) Air and Missile Defense Radar. Leaf states the choice of an LRDR instead of the AN/SPY-6(V) could cause problems integrating Japan’s Aegis Ashore system with what the U.S. Navy will be using.