The US State Department has approved the potential foreign military sale of Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Block I missiles to Japan for an estimated cost of $450 million.
According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the Japanese government has requested 32 SM-6 missiles delivered in two tranches of 16.
Tokyo is also seeking MK-21 Vertical Launch System canisters, canister handling equipment, spares, and other kits necessary for training.
The potential sale would include engineering, technical, and logistical support services.
The new weapon system will be installed on the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force’s Atago-class and Maya-class destroyers.
The DSCA stated that the sale would help improve the country’s air defense capabilities amid increasing ballistic missile threats from China and North Korea.
It would provide Japan with the “most advanced capabilities” to reduce its reliance on the US military in defending its territories.
“Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these missiles into its armed forces,” the agency stated, adding that the sale will have “no adverse impact on US defense readiness.”
SM-6 Missile Capabilities
Developed by Raytheon, the SM-6 is a long-range, 3-in-1 missile capable of anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense, and anti-surface warfare missions.
It can neutralize ballistic missiles shortly after launch or in their terminal phase.
Powered by a solid rocket booster and a dual-thrust solid rocket motor, the defense system can hit targets at a maximum range of 500 kilometers (310 miles).
The SM-6 can operate from either land or sea and strike from any ship or location.
Before giving the green light to Japan, the US approved the potential sale of the missile system to Australia and South Korea.