The Japanese Ministry of Defense released last week new details on Tokyo’s plan to build two ballistic missile defense warships to counter North Korean missiles.
On Dec. 23, the MoD released additional details on the two BMD ships Japan elected to procure after canceling two planned Aegis Ashore BMD batteries, reported Naval News.
“The document released by the MoD describes the need for two vessels to let the other AEGIS vessels focus on different missions, and stressed once again the utility to have ships with superior capacities than the existing Aegis destroyers – able to cope with current ballistic threats, but also to neutralize hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV),” reads the report from Naval News.
According to the MoD, the ships will be built on the existing Aegis Combat System found on both U.S. and Japanese guided-missile combatants and tied into the Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-7 active electronically scanned air search radar.
An image released by the MoD shows a ship with 64 vertical launch cells and a hull form similar to a proposed design for the U.S. Navy’s next-generation DDG(X) surface combatant.
The two ships would field the Raytheon-built, Multi-role Standard Missile 6, a maritime time version of Japan’s shore-based Type 12 Surface to Ship missile and space for weapons that are under development that can intercept hypersonic missiles, according to the MoD.
The new report from the MoD did not detail the specific dimensions of the proposed ships, but previous reports say the two ships could be as large as 20,000 tons. That tonnage would make the pair among the largest vessels in the Japanese fleet.
The document calls for an ambitious commissioning date of both ships by 2028.
“We believe it is an extremely important initiative to drastically strengthen our defense capabilities within five years,” Japan Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said in September.
The new ships would take over the BMD responsibilities of the eight current JMSDF Aegis destroyers, freeing those ships to ward off threats from the southwest, he said. According to the document, the BMD ships would operate primarily in the Sea of Japan off the Korean peninsula.
Like U.S. ships, JMSDF Aegis destroyers have both the capability to conduct air and cruise missile defense as well as BMD.
Japan initially was set to install two Aegis Ashore shore-based BMD emplacements but walked away from the program over risks of debris falling to the ground in civilian areas, USNI News understands.