TOKYO -- Japan will include missile defense spending originally intended for fiscal 2018 in a supplementary budget for the current year as Tokyo accelerates work to improve its interception systems amid escalating tensions with North Korea.
"I want to proceed immediately with discussions to determine the fastest schedule for improving missile defense capability," said Itsunori Onodera, Japan's defense minister.
North Korea recently launched a ballistic missile on a lofted trajectory. It also successfully launched four missiles simultaneously earlier this year.
The fiscal 2017 supplementary budget, expected to receive cabinet approval this month, will include money to introduce the Patriot Advanced Capability Missile Segment Enhancement, which doubles the protective range of the PAC-3 surface-to-air interceptors, as well as the FPS-7 long-range search radar. Funds are also to be earmarked to upgrade the Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment missile detection system, through which interceptors can be ordered to shoot down incoming projectiles.
Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force also will receive funding for technical information from the U.S. military to speed up the introduction of the Aegis Ashore land-based missile shield. The Maritime Self-Defense Force will get money to modify offshore Aegis systems to make them capable of defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Japan additionally will procure the P-1 maritime patrol craft and the E-2D airborne early warning system to improve threat detection and reconnaissance capabilities. The UH-60J rescue helicopter as well as the LR-2 liaison and reconnaissance aircraft also will be introduced for rescue and disaster operations.