Japan May Get New US Hypersonic Missile Interceptor

Japan May Get New US Hypersonic Missile Interceptor

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The US and Japan have scheduled talks to discuss the development of hypersonic missile interceptors and will apparently collaborate to develop the countermeasures to form a critical part of Japan’s home defense against Russia, China, and North Korea.

According to Interesting Engineering, Japan’s current anti-missile systems are mostly geared towards intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) type threats, and it desperately needs this update. While ICMBs are launched at high angles into space and have their payloads re-enter Earth’s atmosphere before rushing toward their intended targets, Hypersonic missiles can fly at greater speeds and low altitudes and change course midflight.

Due to their speed and agility, hypersonic missiles are harder to detect and track than ballistic missiles, which fly in a parabolic path passing through and out of the atmosphere. Some experts believe this is why hypersonic missiles are difficult to intercept unless close to the point of impact, where they are most vulnerable.

Japan’s current defense is not fit to counter hypersonic threats; therefore the two nations aim to develop a new interceptor capable of changing trajectory to respond to high-speed projectiles in low orbit and can intercept hypersonic projectiles before impact.

According to Interesting Engineering, they could not do so at a better time with China, Russia, and North Korea all reportedly testing hypersonic weapons, which surely has pressured Japan and the US to improve their capabilities. Japan and the US will reportedly collaborate to improve the detection and tracking of low-altitude missiles by creating a “satellite constellation” that processes data from multiple satellites for high accuracy and early detection.

This new round of talks will build on earlier meetings in January 2023, and if the talks prove successful it will mark the second instance of a collaboration agreement in missile defense technology between the US and Japan.