Washington and Tokyo are working toward developing a new radar system for Aegis-equipped US Navy ships, as a "part of efforts to improve defense capabilities," diplomatic sources told Kyodo news agency Sunday.
The new system aims at countering new weapons, including hypersonic cruise missiles being developed by China and Russia, sources disclosed, adding that coordination on the project had entered the final phase.
Currently, US Navy Aegis-equipped ships rely on the AN/SPQ-9B radar system, reportedly capable of detecting low-flying threats. However, this system uses traditional rotating radar, inherently prone to blind spots. According to Kyodo, one AN/SPQ-9B costs approximately $4.1 million, while the new system is likely to cost much more.
The Aegis is a primarily maritime missile defense system originally developed by the Missile and Surface Radar Division of RCA Corporation and currently produced by Lockheed Martin.
In 2016, the US launched the first stationary land-based version, called Aegis Ashore, in Romania. Russia has repeatedly condemned the deployment of Aegis Ashore in countries close to Russian borders, saying the missile defense system can easily be repurposed for offensive missile launches.