TOKYO -- Japan is set to approve its first arms export under new guidelines set out in April.
Japan's major defense contractor plans to export a high-performance sensor used in the Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) surface-to-air missile system to the U.S. The sensor is a key component of the infrared seeker set into the tip of the missile to identify and track incoming targets.
The U.S. is expected to use the part to assemble the PAC-2 for export to Qatar. The Japanese government studied U.S. management capapabilities regarding defense equipment and concluded that the U.S. transfer of the missile to the Middle Eastern country is unlikely to escalate any conflicts.
The government will convene the National Security Council later this month to approve the shipment under the three principles governing the transfer of defense equipment and technology, which allow Japanese defense industries to export items and participate in international joint-development projects on defense matters if they clear strict inspection standards and other requirements. The principles were adopted in April to replace three earlier ones that had effectively banned the export of arms by Japanese companies, particularly in cases where they might be re-exported to countries engaged in conflict.
In Japan, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries produces the PAC-2 sensor for Japan's Self Defense Forces under license from Raytheon, a U.S. manufacturer of defense equipment. The U.S. company is currently scaling back production of PAC-2 components, as it is focusing on the next-generation PAC-3 missile interceptor system. Raytheon is planning to source the sensors from the Japanese company for use in PAC-2 units to be shipped to Qatar.