This past week we took the opportunity to recognize one of our greatest allies in missile defense, Japan, and the substantial partnership both of our countries have in the co- development of the newest interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA. No other ally of the United States has committed to sharing the financial burden in a 50/50 share of development of a new weapon system. In a cost sensitive and sequester-reduced budget environment, partnering with a trusted ally with common objectives is the most efficient and productive way to share the load.
The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor will dramatically expand the range and capability from the current SM-3 Block IA and IB interceptors enabling more mission flexibility on both Japanese and U.S. Aegis ships. Moreover, this new type of interceptor will be placed in Poland and in Romania on Aegis Ashore platforms as part of Phase 3 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, providing extended range to protect nearly all of NATO Europe against short, medium, intermediate-ranged ballistic missile from Iran. The SM-3 Block IIA offers more rocket fuel capacity for increased range, better communication, and more capable sensors while still fitting into the Vertical Launch Tubes (VLS) on ships or on land. SM-3 IIA will also have a maximum velocity that is 45-60% greater than previous versions of SM-3. The new interceptor will provide Japan earlier shot opportunities and more battle space to defend their country from North Korea. It is a remarkable feat of joint-nation engineering in developing the speed required and the increased reliability to kill incoming reentry warheads in space.
This significant partnership on missile defense between Japan and the United States can trace its roots to President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) in 1983. Japan relaxed its arm export bans to facilitate sharing military and dual use technology, the needed baseline to future cooperate joint development of weapons systems. In October 1994, Japan and the United States officially began the “Bilateral Study on Ballistic Missile Defense” which leveraged previous reports on missile defense needs for Japan. In August 1999, the United States and Japan signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to begin research, and began cooperative development in 2006 of the SM-3 Block IIA under a revised MOU.
MDAA had the privilege to recognize the U.S.- Japan partnership on the SM-3 Block IIA with members of the U.S. and Japanese governments, the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, the U.S. Navy, and U.S. and Japanese industry at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California where his remains lie honored.
“Our two nations may spring from separate pasts; we may live at opposite sides of the Earth; but we have been brought together by our indomitable spirit of determination, our love of liberty, and devotion to progress. We are like climbers who begin their ascent from opposite ends of the mountain. The harder we try, the higher we climb and the closer we come together– until that moment we reach the peak and we are as one. ” – President Ronald Reagan, November 11, 1983 to the Japanese Diet.
“I say tonight, you are as one with this partnership with SM-3 IIA.” – MDAA Chairman Riki Ellison, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
– Riki Ellison