The heightening tension in the East China Sea has prompted Japan to start sea trials of a new missile destroyer meant to blunt ballistic attacks by China.
These destroyers will be eight in all and are the mobile sea-based ballistic defense replacing the shore-based Aegis system. Sending the destroyer is ahead of schedule as China beefs up its naval assets against a larger PLAN, reported in Defense News.
A gross difference in ship numbers of the Japanese navy needs the eight destroyers out to sea, as soon as it can be commissioned. The number of the Chinese navy is concerning, but the Japanese navy still is one of the most modern navies in Asia. In a conflict with China, the Japanese navy will have US Navy assets to back them up
One of the first destroyers of the line Haguro, left the shipyards of Japan Marine United Corporation's shipyard at Isogo, located at Yokohama which south from the Japanese capital. The ships have left for sea trials to test the systems.
Planned for commissioning in 2021 after the sea trials, the length of the destroyer is 170 meters, with 8,200 tons at displacement, and has 96 Mk 41 Vertical Launching System cells that have a varied loadout it can fire. One of its main features is firing missiles to counter Chinese anti-ship ballistic missiles that are meant to knock ships out from a distance, confirmed in Global Defense Corp.
Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force will be equipped with these ships of the line, Haguro is the second vessel of the Maya-class destroyers that are equivalent to the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers of the US Navy. The Haguro is the 8th destroyer that can equip the Aegis combat system for air and ballistic missile defense, as a mobile naval missile battery.
Suspension of the Aegis Ashore system caused problems with missile defense, but Haguro is the intermediate solution to mitigate the problem. It was planned earlier that the Aegis Ashore system provides missile defenses on the north and south ends of the Honshu island against North Korean ballistic missiles.
Keeping the Maya-class destroyers at sea might be impractical. It is not a real solution for a sustained missile screen to defend Japan from missile attacks. Hence, other solutions are needed. Deployment of the Aegis Ashore missile defense is one of the best bets to achieve this task, but that was suspended, cited in Asia Times.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was reported by National broadcaster NHK that he will be holding a caucus with the country's national security community anytime soon. The objective is to drop the Aegis Ashore and get new bearings on how to secure Japan from ballistic missile attacks.
One of the controversial solutions according to NHK is for upgraded standoff strike capacity to attack and counter-strike against all missile batteries used to attack Japan. This aggressive stance may not prosper with opposition against it. Another is that it will be opposed by the party which Abe has a coalition with, remarked in Japan Times.
Developing the Aegis Ashore missile defense is not cheap, and more concerns that shelved the project. Another is that locals were not happy about the plan and opposed it instead.
For the moment, the Japanese Missile Destroyer is a stopgap to missile defense but is similar or better to the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers. They will give the Chinese Navy a run for its money.