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International collaboration is becoming the norm for advanced defense systems, as developing and manufacturing high-grade technology entails enormous costs. In the first major military technology collaboration between the U.S. and Japan since 2014, the two allies are looking to jointly develop next-generation radar technology that would use Japanese semiconductors to more than double the detection range of the Aegis missile defense system.
Aegis is largely a collection of American technologies. That Japan will be involved in such a key piece of the system as radar and will contribute chips, the locus of its technological power, signifies a deepening bilateral cooperation on security, as asia.nikkei.com evaluates.
The Aegis system brings together powerful radar and missiles to locate and intercept several incoming missiles or attack aircraft simultaneously. Japanese vessels equipped with the system currently employ Lockheed Martin’s SPY-1 radar. The U.S. Navy plans to upgrade its ships with Raytheon’s SPY-6, which can detect missiles more than 1,000 kilometers away, or more than twice as far as the SPY-1.
The two countries currently aim to develop an even longer-range system that is also more compact, letting ships stationed in the Sea of Japan watch for missiles across all of the Korean Peninsula and part of eastern China.
The U.S. hopes to incorporate technologies from companies such as Mitsubishi Electric that use gallium nitride chips, which make radar systems much more powerful at little additional energy cost. While American contractors have similar technology, Japan is thought to be the leader in the field.
The process is expected to include an agreement on the joint project already this year, and then studies preparing for mass production five or 10 years down the road.
With the finished system likely be exported to other American allies, Tokyo hopes the undertaking will benefit the Japanese contractors involved.