Japan to Upgrade Aegis Destroyer Intercept Capabilities

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The main gate of the Defense Ministry is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — New Aegis destroyers to be deployed to the Maritime Self-Defense Force are set to have the most advanced missile intercept capabilities among MSDF Aegis destroyers, Defense Ministry sources told Jiji Press Thursday.

The new destroyers will be equipped with more vertical launchers, allowing them to fire over 30% more interceptor missiles than existing destroyers, the sources said. A vertical launching system can fire 128 missiles.

In April, the ministry concluded a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. for the detailed design of the lead ship of the new destroyers. For the second vessel, the ministry last month sealed a deal with Japan Marine United Corp.

The new Aegis destroyers “must have far more advanced intercept capabilities than existing Aegis destroyers to respond to North Korean ballistic missiles that reach several thousand kilometers in altitude and multiple simultaneous missile launches,” a ministry source said.

The new destroyers will be equipped with Standard Missile-3 Block 2A missiles, jointly developed by Japan and the United States, that are believed to be capable of intercepting a missile at an altitude of over 1,000 kilometers, twice that of conventional interceptor missiles.

The destroyers will also have SM-6 missiles designed to shoot down hypersonic glide weapons.

The ministry has no plans at present to install U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles on the new Aegis destroyers. Still, a government source said that the destroyers would be able to additionally install a system so that Tomahawk missiles can be fired from the VLS.

The ministry plans to commission the lead vessel in fiscal 2027 and the second in fiscal 2028. For fiscal 2023, which started last April, it earmarked ¥220.8 billion in related spending.