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Color Guard at the 5th Okinawa Missile Defender of the Year award ceremony at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan on December 1, 2017.

Last week, MDAA spent time in Japan – both in Tokyo and in Okinawa – recognizing and advocating with our nation’s most invested allied nation and partner in the world today on missile defense. With the eminent threat of a nuclear North Korea, who have flown uncontested over Japan six times with ballistic missiles since 1998, with the most recent two in August and September this year. To further aggravate aggression towards Japan, North Korea has landed eight of their test ballistic missiles re-entry vehicles in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), seven this year – with the most recent one on November 29th in the test of the Hwasong-15 ICBM. Compounding this North Korea ballistic missile threat is the almost one thousand intrusions of Japanese airspace this year by Chinese military aircraft and China’s recent military expansion and build-up on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

Complicating a much needed comprehensive multinational and joint-air and missile defense for this region in deterrence and defense of allied nations there, is the Republic of Korea’s unwillingness to partner with Japan in defense against the common threat of North Korea. Due to the Republic of Korea’s deference to a Unified Korea, China, disputed islands with Japan, and a significant history of Japanese occupation on the peninsula, the United States has had to develop separate bilateral relationships with each country on ballistic missile and integrated air and missile defense. There has been little progress in bringing this regional partnership together and that progress has been led by the Navies of all three nations in exercises sharing limited information within simulated exercises.

Japan as a Self Defense Force, which their constitution enables, has a two-layer ballistic missile defense capability and capacity in place today to provide defense against short- and medium-range North Korean ballistic missiles. The first layer of this capability which intercepts in lower space is made up by four Kongo-Class Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) ships, using the first generation Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IA interceptors and SPY-1 Radar. The second layer of this capability is made up with six land-based Patriot Groups/Battalions with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors, operated and manned by their Air Self Defense Force that intercept within the atmosphere. Both their capability and capacity cannot defend the entire country of Japan from North Korean ballistic missiles, which means they are forced to rack and stack their prioritized areas to defend.

The United States having a considerable number of military forces, bases, and ports in Japan, with the 7th United States Naval Fleet home ported in Yokosuka, Japan, U.S. Marine expeditionary forces in Okinawa, and significant U.S. Air Force Bases in Kadena on Okinawa and throughout Japan, the United States has deployed significant missile defense capacity and capability to defend its armed forces located in Japan from the North Korean ballistic missile threat. U.S. missile defense forces are made up of five Aegis BMD ships – of mixed processor baselines, with SM-3 Block IB interceptors, and upgraded SPY-1 Radars – along with one Battalion (1-1 ADA) of Patriot land-based missile defense with PAC-3 interceptors located on Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

Today, neither the United States or Japan have a proven and required regional missile defense capability deployed in Japan to defeat and defend against the demonstrated North Korean Hwasong-15 ICBM, a lofted launched on November 29 that showed ICBM speeds and capacity to carry a thermonuclear warhead that does not need to be detonated inside of the atmosphere to inflict massive casualties and damage upon Japan.

Driven by the concern for the defense of the population, the value of Japan, and the unrestrained and accelerated demonstrated North Korean ballistic missile threat over Japan and in their exclusive economic zone, Japan and the United States are both exponentially increasing capacity and capability of missile defense systems for deployment in Japan. The Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is working and investing with Japan on new capabilities to best defend Japan from North Korea. The binational development of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptor, that has two more tests next year in Hawaii for Initial Operational Capability (IOC), which has inherent capability to defeat ICBM speed ballistic missiles and gives a much higher and greater range first intercept in space, providing more battlespace for a layered defense, is absolutely critical to Japan, NATO, and the United States for regional missile defense. Japan will acquire from MDA and the United States at least two new land-based Aegis Ashore systems deployed today in Hawaii, Romania, and soon Poland. These Japan Aegis Ashore systems look to be modified by Japan and modernized to include integrated air and missile defense capability with the existing ballistic missile capability and the new SPY-6 or upgraded solid-state radar that the Japanese will have to test, develop, and invest in as this version of Aegis Ashore is not a program of record for the United States. The United States has a program of record for its sea-based version on the upcoming Flight-3 Aegis BMD Destroyers with Baseline-10, integrated air and missile defense layers of interceptors and the new SPY-6 radar, which is expected to be delivered in 2024. Japan is also modernizing and building four additional BMD destroyers, with the first one deployed in 2019, that would be able to launch the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors. Japan will also modernize its Patriots to be able to launch the new Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors. Japan too will deploy its own battle management control Air Operations Center (AOC) for BMD in Yokota Air Base, Japan next year reducing its dependence on the 603rd AOC in Hawaii. Japan will be watching the performance of THAAD and its upcoming integration with Patriot systems for the Olympics in Korea next year to look at making a decision on the Olympics in 2020 in Japan.

The United States within next year have its Patriot Battalion in Okinawa modernized with PD 8 and with MSE capability. The U.S. will also increase its future missile defense capacity and capability in Japan by adding a new U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery Brigade to Japan, which provides infrastructure and Brigade command for the 1-1 ADA battalion, the two U.S. deployed TPY-2 Forward Based Radars in Japan, and the Task Force Talon Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in Guam. Additional U.S. Aegis BMD ships will be forthcoming as capacity allows and with SM-3 Block IIA, SM-6 capability for Japan and the three U.S. Aircraft Carrier Strike groups that operate in the region. Development of an extended range THAAD and the Indirect Fire Protection Capability Increment 2-Intercept (IFPC Increment 2-I) for island integrated air and missile defense in the Pacific will look to be tested, developed and deployed in the future to relieve U.S Aegis BMD ships. The most promising game shifting technology for Japan and the region is the development of an operational 500 kilowatt solid-state, directed energy lasers on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) above the clouds for boost phase missile defense. Right behind it would be a MRDR similar to what is currently being installed in Clear, Alaska and will be going in to Hawaii to give a 360 degree air and missile defense picture that would cover all of Japan and also North Korean flight trajectories to Guam, Hawaii, Alaska, and the continental U.S.

It is about the future, but it is more about today and what both nations have to defend Japan within their limited capacity and capability against North Korea. Their greatest asset is their men and women fighting and operating these systems that have kept Japan and its 120 million people safe this past year. It is both a joint Army, Navy, and Air Force fight and it is a bilateral Japan-U.S. integrated air and missile defense fight that are made up of their forces, their soldiers, their airmen, and their sailors.

We had the great honor and opportunity to recognize these leaders of excellence this past year keeping Japan safe in air and missile defense from both countries at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan on December 1st.

Introducing the 2017 awardees for our 5th Okinawa Missile Defender of the Year.

  • 2曹   伊藤 将文
  • 3曹   中山 勉寿
  • 3曹   池内 康平
  • 3曹   小柳 尋之
  • 3曹   富濱 彬弘
  • 3曹   藤原 寛之
  • 曹長   東 幸一郎
  • 3曹   池松 将太
  • 3曹   砂川 陽一
  • 2曹   林 芳隆
  • 3曹   野口 豊弘
  • 2曹   遠近 真矢
  • 3曹   藤田 哲也
  • 1LT Gabriel Dacasin
  • SGT Cory Twiford
  • SPC Nefrisco Nash
  • SGT Naomi Thomas
  • PFC Nickles Farris
  • PFC James Martin
  • 1LT Christopher Neff
  • SSG Jerome Teribury
  • PFC Anthony Nemard
  • CPL Miguel Oquendo
  • SPC Stephan Bramhila
  • PFC Caleb Wood
  • SPC Cameron Westfall
  • SGT James Semiene
  • SPC Tyler Heim
  • SPC Danielle Blackmond
  • SGT Brian Varoz
  • SPC Samuel Banuelosbarrios

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Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.