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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Japanese and Korean Navies Arming More Warships with US Aegis Missile System amid China Tensions

Destroyers

(Photo : US Navy) Aegis warships USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), USS Shoup (DDG 86), Chokai (DDG 176), Sejong The Great (DDG 991) and Gang Gam Chan (DDH 979)

The navies of Japan and Korea are expanding the number of their destroyers armed with the U.S.-made Aegis Combat System, an integrated naval weapons system produced by Lockheed Martin that uses powerful computers and radars to track and destroy enemy planes and missiles.

The decision to expand their Aegis fleets by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) brings integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) capabilities to their new destroyers under a $490 million deal with Lockheed Martin. It comes against a background of increased tensions pitting Japan and South Korea against China.

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The decision follows a successful joint-missile defense exercise last June in which Aegis destroyers from the U.S. Navy, the JMSDF and the ROKN shared data while detecting and tracking simulated missile threats.

Involved in this exercise were the Aegis missile destroyers USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), USS Shoup (DDG 86), JMSDF Chokai (DDG 176), ROKN Sejong The Great (DDG 991) and ROKN Gang Gam Chan (DDH 979).

The biennial exercise focuses on improving tactical and technical coordination among its participants, including the detection, tracing and reporting of ballistic targets.

The $490 million contract paves way for Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense on two Japanese Atago-class destroyers and three South Korea KDX-III destroyers.

These warships will be equipped with Aegis Baseline 9, the latest evolution of the combat system, capable of IAMD. The Aegis system includes Lockheed Martin's SPY-1 radar, the U.S. Navy's most advanced multi-function radar system.

When paired with the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, the system capable of delivering missiles for every mission and threat environment.

The seventh and eighth Aegis ships will join the JMSDF. Aegis already arms four of Japan's Kongo-class destroyers and two Atago-class destroyers, providing them with advanced sea, air and undersea threat detection capabilities.

Aegis will be deployed onto the next three KDX-III Sejong the Great-class destroyers, a multi-purpose destroyer with air and land defense and anti-submarine capabilities. Aegis is aboard three KDX-III destroyers: RoK Sejong the Great, RoK Yulgok Yi I and RoK Seoae Ryu Sungryong.

These are the largest surface warfare ships in the ROKN equipped with Aegis.

The Aegis Combat System consists of the Aegis Weapon System (AWS), the fast-reaction component of the Aegis Anti-Aircraft Warfare (AAW) capability; the Mark 41 Vertical Launch System and the Phalanx Close In Weapon System (CIWS).

AWS, the core of Aegis, consists of the AN/SPY-1 Radar; the MK 99 Fire Control System; WCS; the Command and Decision Suite and SM-2 Standard Missile family. This family includes the basic RIM-66 Standard, the RIM-67 extended range missile and the newer RIM-161 designed to counter ballistic missile threats.

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