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US, Japan to Jointly Develop Hypersonic Missile Interceptor

The US and Japan will jointly develop an interceptor missile to counter hypersonic missiles being developed by China, Russia, and North Korea.

The decision is expected to be announced at a trilateral meeting of Japan, US, and South Korea scheduled on August 18, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported, citing sources.

The missile development is expected to take 10 years.

Japan’s Missile Defense

The missile’s development is aimed at bolstering Japan’s defense against hypersonic missiles, which are difficult to counter with the country’s existing missile defense systems.

Japan’s current two-tiered missile defense is based on an Aegis destroyer firing an SM-3 Block 2A missile outside the atmosphere, followed by the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missile shooting down the falling debris.

This will potentially be the second interceptor missile jointly developed by the countries after the SM-3 Block 2A, which is capable of intercepting short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Block 2A is the successor of Block 1A developed solely by the US.

Hypersonic Missiles Hard to Intercept

Unlike a ballistic missile with a parabolic trajectory, a hypersonic projectile flies with an irregular trajectory and at a relatively lower altitude, making interception difficult.

According to The Japan Times, the new missile will be designed to shoot down hypersonic projectiles before their landing phase, when some of them start to fly at irregular trajectories to evade interceptors.

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