The move will not only ease U.S. concerns of Japan’s trade surplus with Washington but will also strengthen the country’s defenses against its foes. Japanese military planners see North Korea as an immediate source of danger and perceive China’s growing military power as a long-term threat.
On Tuesday, as per a source in Japan’s defense ministry with direct knowledge of the matter at hand, Tokyo has selected Lockheed Martin Corp’s advanced radar for its missile defense system worth a couple of billions.
The source disclosed the information on the condition of anonymity.
Japan plans on purchasing two Aegis Ashore batteries, set to be deployed in 2023, as it prepares to upgrade its missile defense systems against threats from China and North Korea.
Incidentally, the purchase is likely to help ease trade frictions with the United States.
Japan chose Lockheed Martin Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) over Raytheon Co’s SPY-6.
The decision means that Tokyo will now be able to add it to its defense budget slated for release in August 2018, said three sources on the condition of anonymity.
According to sources, the two Aegis Ashore batteries is likely to cost double that of Japan’s initial estimate of $2 billion.
U.S. President Donald Trump has earlier urged Tokyo to purchase more U.S. military equipment and other goods to help balance its trade deficit with Japan.
As of May 2018, Japan’s trade surplus with the U.S. fell by 17.3% to $3.07 billion (340.7 billion yen), its lowest level since January 2013. Japan has increased its imports of U.S. coal and aircrafts.
Tokyo’s budget proposal comes midst easing of regional tensions following the June 12 summit in Singapore between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Japan’s military planners see North Korea as an immediate source of danger and perceive China’s growing military power as a long-term threat.
“North Korea needs to show it is making concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, and it has yet to do so,” said Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s Minister of Defence at a press briefing.
He went on to add, Lockheed’s radar had been selected due to its search capabilities and comparatively low life cycle costs vis-a-vis Raytheon’s system.
Lockheed and Raytheon said, they have not yet been officially notified on the result of their radar bid.