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US, Japan to Sign Counter-Hypersonic Research Agreement

The United States and Japan will sign an agreement to collaborate on advanced space systems and counter-hypersonic missile technology research and development.

The pact was announced at a virtual meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi on Thursday last week.

The defense collaboration comes amid Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea and continued North Korean bellicosity in the region.

“We’re meeting against a backdrop of increased tensions and challenges to the free, stable and secure Indo-Pacific region that we both seek … challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and by the coercive and aggressive behavior of the People’s Republic of China, ” Austin stated in his opening remarks.

The meeting occurred a day after yet another missile test by North Korea and as China has ramped up its hypersonic missile development, most recently testing a hypersonic glide vehicle deployed from a fractional orbital bombardment system, which alarmed international observers.

Japan’s Railgun Counter-Hypersonic Weapon

The Japanese government has already begun to address the hypersonic threat by setting aside 6.5 billion yen ($56 million) this fiscal year for the development of a railgun-based counter-hypersonic weapon system.

The country’s Defense Ministry Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency has researched the technology and is planning its deployment by the second half of this decade.

Relying on electromagnetic force, railgun technology can launch projectiles faster than is possible with conventional interception systems. This increases the chance of striking incoming missiles, with greater speed allowing the launch of more projectiles simultaneously.

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