Japan to mull joining US ‘satellite constellation’ initiative to counter missile threats

January 12, 2021

The Mainichi:


The Japanese government will consider joining the United States’ “satellite constellation” initiative — aimed at accurately observing missile movements by deploying a number of low-orbit satellites equipped with smart sensors — through the production and launch of some of the satellites used in the system.

As part of the move, the government will begin full consideration, in fiscal year 2021, on ways to cooperate in an initiative to counter new types of missiles owned by China, Russia, and North Korea that are difficult to intercept with existing missile defense systems. Japan will also advance development of infrared ray sensors that can detect and track missiles across an extensive area and with high sensitivity, with an eye on mounting them on satellites.

The missile defense system that Japan has heretofore adopted from the U.S., including Aegis missile interceptors, envisages ballistic missiles that fly in a parabolic arc before hitting the targets. However, China and Russia have developed hypersonic glide weapons that can follow irregular trajectories. North Korea also possesses new missiles that can follow irregular trajectories at a low altitude. Both types of weapons could penetrate existing missile defense systems.

The U.S. satellite constellation initiative is aimed at monitoring missiles, enemy movements both on the ground and in the air, and space debris, by using a cluster of more than 1,000 small artificial satellites. In order to work as a missile defense system, however, it is also necessary to improve the capabilities of interceptor missiles…


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