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Exclusive: U.S., Japanese firms collaborating on new missile defense radars - sources


The proposed Aegis Ashore radars would be variants of models already developed by Raytheon and Lockheed, the sources said. They would include components using gallium nitride, an advanced material fabricated separately by Mitsubishi Electric and Fujitsu that can amplify power far more efficiently than conventional silicon-based semiconductors.


Nuclear-capable North Korea has a fast accelerating missile development program and Japanese officials have been worried that its ballistic missile defenses (BMD) could be overwhelmed by swarm attacks or be circumvented by warheads launched on lofted trajectories.
In the latest snub to demands it end its weapons program, North Korea on Sunday fired what it described as a intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew about 500 km (311 miles), falling into waters off its east coast.
It had tested another missile the previous Sunday. North Korea said that launch tested the capability to carry a "large-size heavy nuclear warhead" and put the U.S. mainland within "sighting range."
Japan would likely need three Aegis Ashore batteries to cover the whole country, each of which would cost around $700 million without missiles, one of the sources said.

EXPORT

The idea is that such systems could eventually be sold to the U.S. or other militaries, representing a second chance for Japan to break into global arms markets after a failed bid last year to sell Australia a fleet of submarines in what Tokyo had hoped would spur military exports.Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ended a decades-old ban on arms exports in 2014 to help beef up the nation's military and lower the unit cost of home-built military equipment but Japan's long-isolated defense companies have so far had scant success winning business overseas.


"Rather than a fully engineered submarine or other platform, the best way Japan can win export deals is to get Japanese components and technology integrated into U.S. equipment," another of the sources said.

Japan is expected to make a final decision to acquire a ground-based Aegis system this year. It has also looked at buying THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), which would add a third layer of defense between Aegis and Japan's last line of defense PAC-3 Patriot missiles, to counter the North Korean threat.

Each THAAD battery, which come with missiles already loaded, costs around $1 billion.
Using either THAAD or beefed up Aegis radars could, however, anger China, which is already upset that THAAD batteries recently deployed in South Korea can peer deep beyond its border.
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