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Japan Launches New Guided-Missile Destroyers

The 8,200-ton, 170-meter–long destroyers are equipped with the Aegis Baseline J7 combat system.

Japan has launched the very first of an new class of guided-missile destroyers with ballistic missile defense capabilities, since the U.S. ally is constantly bolster its defenses against the missile threat from North Korea.

Named the Maya, the very first of two 27DDG-class destroyers ordered from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force was published inside a ceremony attended by Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at Japan Marine United’s shipyard at Isogo Ward in Yokohama, south of Japan’s capital Tokyo, in accordance with Japan’s Defense Ministry.

The 8,200-ton, 170-meter long destroyers are equipped with the Aegis Baseline J7 combat system along with the Northrop Grumman AN/SPQ-9B radar system, which supplies the ability to detect and track low-flying, high-speed, low-observable anti-ship missile targets in heavy-clutter environments. Aegis Baseline J7 is the Japanese equivalent for the current Aegis Baseline 9/BMD 5.1 standard.

The ships can also be able to fire the SM-3 Block IIA missile currently being jointly developed from the United States and Japan for ballistic missile defense, even though the northeast Asian country has also been flagged as being a possible client for the SM-6 missile developed for use against air, surface and some forms of ballistic missile targets.

Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun previously reported that the 27DDGs will be furnished with Cooperative Engagement Capability, or CEC, which Japan received U.S. State Department approval to obtain in August 2015 within a $1.5 billion Foreign Military Sales request that also included the Aegis Baseline 9 system, AN/SPQ-9B and other associated equipment to the two ships.

The newspaper also reported that Japan is considering fitting its Northrop Grumman E-2D Hawkeye early warning aircraft with CEC, that may link the detection and tracking sensors of aircraft and ships to offer an “integrated fire control capability” for warships and combat aircraft defending against air and missile threats.

Japan has four E-2D Hawkeyes on order, all which should be delivered in 2020.

The Maya is predicted to get commissioned into the JMSDF in 2020, while using as-yet unnamed second ship scheduled for launch sometime and 2019 and commissioning set for 2021.

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