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Japan has been advancing its integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) capabilities through the combined use of vessels equipped with the Aegis naval weapon system, early-warning aircraft, radars, and other equipment.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense has decided to equip the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF’s) two Improved Atago-class destroyers with Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) air-defense missiles. The vessels will be equipped with the US-developed Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) system, which will enable the destroyers to act as part of a wider ‘grid’ of sensor and weapon platforms that allows other CEC-equipped ships to share surveillance and targeting information.

The news came just four days after the MoD asked for JPY11.1 billion (USD99.9 million) in its 2019 budget request to procure an undisclosed number of SM-6 interceptors, according to

The decision follows the launch of Maya, the first of the two Improved Atago-class destroyers. The 170 m-long vessel is expected to be commissioned in March 2020, while the second ship is expected to enter service in March 2021.

The commissioning of Maya is expected to facilitate data-sharing with US warships and enhance the interoperability between the Japan Self-Defense Force and the US military.

Maya is expected to use the Aegis Baseline J7 supported by the Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1D-series radar.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet has already deployed CEC-capable Aegis ships that can launch SM-6 interceptors at the Yokosuka naval base in Kanagawa Prefecture.