The Defense Ministry plans to order two more Aegis destroyers capable of intercepting ballistic missiles in view of the continuing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.
The ministry will soon start negotiations with the Finance Ministry on the plan to bring the number of Aegis destroyers operated by the Maritime Self-Defense Force to eight. Four of the MSDF’s six Aegis destroyers are currently equipped with the missile defense system that can shoot down ballistic missiles in space.
At least two are needed to cover the entire Japanese archipelago with the ballistic missile defense system, though more provide better protection. To deal with a long-range ballistic missile threat from North Korea last December, the MSDF deployed two Aegis destroyers in the East China Sea and one in the Sea of Japan. In the spring, two were deployed in the Sea of Japan to brace for the launch of North Korea’s Musudan medium-range missiles as the other two were undergoing maintenance. As the threat continued, some critics pointed out the inadequacy of the missile defense structure.