Home » Foreign Forces » Japanese Navy Successfully Tests Latest Aegis BMD Upgrade from Destroyer JS Atago


Japanese Navy Successfully Tests Latest Aegis BMD Upgrade from Destroyer JS Atago

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force guided-missile destroyer JS Atago (DDG 177) returns to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam after participating in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2010 exercises. US Navy photo.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) demonstrated Japan’s sea-based ballistic missile defense capability, when destroyer JS Atago (DDG-177) intercepted a missile target off the coast of Hawaii this week.

Atago’s combat system was recently upgraded to the Japan (J6) Aegis BMD configuration. Using that new capability, the destroyer showed off its sea-based midcourse engagement capability by detecting a missile target and successfully engaging it with the Aegis system and a Standard Missile-3 Block IB.

“At approximately 10:37pm HST on September 11, 2018, a simple separating ballistic missile target was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii. JS ATAGO crew members detected and tracked the target. The Aegis Weapon System then developed a fire control solution and a Standard Missile -3 Block IB Threat Upgrade (SM-3 Blk IB TU) missile was launched. The SM-3 successfully intercepted the target above the Pacific Ocean,” according to an MDA news release, which called the Japan Flight Test Mission-05 (JFTM-05) “a significant milestone in the growing cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in the area of missile defense.”

“This successful test is a major milestone verifying the capabilities of an upgraded Aegis BMD configuration for Japan’s destroyers,” MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves said in the news release.
“This success provides confidence in the future capability for Japan to defeat the developing threats in the region. My congratulations to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, our MDA team, and our industry partners. We are committed to assisting the Government of Japan in upgrading its national missile defense capability against emerging threats.”

Japan currently has four BMD-capable destroyers, with Atago having received the most up-to-date capability improvement. The Japanese government is committed to having eight Aegis-equipped destroyers and two Aegis Ashore sites – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet approved the Aegis Ashore purchase in December, though details are yet to be finalized. The four BMD ships today are responsible for round-the-clock protection of the country, but with the addition of the Aegis Ashore sites, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said in December that the fleet of Aegis destroyers would be freed up to take on more of a multi-mission portfolio.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ship JS Atago (DDG 177) launches two missiles while the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) transits during Multi-Sail 2015. US Navy photo.

“Congratulations and thank you very much to all concerned with the test,” Rear Adm. Akira Saito, senior director general for the Operations and Plans Department in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the on-site lead for the test, said in the news release.
“I believe the success of this flight test mission (JFTM-05) further strengthened the Japanese BMD system. We, the JMSDF and U.S. Navy, will enhance our relationship and cooperation to continuously promote our ballistic missile defense.”

In a separate statement, Mary Keifer, director of Lockheed Martin’s Aegis International Programs, said, “the tests show how flexible and versatile the Aegis Combat System is with other international navies around the world. Working with our allied nations, the Missile Defense Agency and the U.S. Navy depicts the interoperability of the Aegis Combat System in an integrated air and missile defense environment.”

  • Curtis Conway

    Thank you Megan for an outstanding article. Most of all thank you for using the right photograph of the actual ship. Breaking Defense just couldn’t figure it out in illustrating their article, and showed the JS Suzutsuki (DD-117) which does not possess an Aegis Combat System on board, but rather an ATECS (advanced technology command system) OYQ-11 ACDS, and an indigenous developed FCS-3A AAW fixed array radar.

    • Centaurus

      What happens when an adversary launches a fusilade of incoming at a ship or ships ? It seems the VLS cells would get depleted pretty fast in an attack of serious intensity. Only one or two needs to get through. And hypervelocity attacks just aren’t even part of the equation yet.

    • Tim

      It would be nice to know the altitude of the intercept. The most demonstrated is 130nm, which seems to be the max for the SM-3. This is about half what is needed to reach IRBMs and ICBMs. G2mil has details about this.