Japan shoots down test missile in space – defense minister

TOKYO (Thomson Financial) – Japan said Tuesday it had shot down a ballistic missile in space high above the Pacific Ocean as part of joint efforts with the United States to erect a shield against a possible attack from North Korea.Japan tested the US-developed Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptor from a warship in waters off Hawaii, becoming the first US ally to intercept a target using the system.

Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba described the successful test as “extremely significant.” “We will continue to strive to increase the system’s credibility,” he told reporters, insisting the missile shield was worth the high cost.

“We can’t talk about how much money should be spent when human lives are at stake.” Japan plans to spend a total of 127 billion yen over the four years to March 2008 on missile defense using the US-developed Aegis combat system, according to the defense ministry.

The naval destroyer Kongou launched the SM-3 which, at 7.12 am Japan time (2212 GMT Monday), intercepted the missile fired from onshore earlier, the navy said in a statement.

Officials said the interception was made around 100 miles (160 kilometers) above the Pacific. Japan plans to install the missile shield on four Aegis-equipped destroyers by March 2011, including the Kongou.

If the SM-3 system fails to intercept its target in space, the second stage of the shield uses ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors to try to shoot it down.

Japan introduced its first PAC-3 missile launcher at the Iruma air force base north of Tokyo in March, one year ahead of schedule, amid tense relations with North Korea which tested a nuclear device for the first time in October last year.

Japanese authorities aim to increase the number of locations equipped with the PAC-3 system to 14 by March 2011.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: