The United States has agreed in principle to Japan's
licensed production of US-developed surface-to-air
missiles which will become the core of a joint missile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., the top Japanese
defence contractor, is expected to start building
Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missiles on
license from US Lockheed Martin Corp. in the year to
March 2006, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.
The PAC-3 is a US army surface-to-air guided missile
capable of intercepting missiles including North Korea's
Rodong, which has a range of about 1,300 kilometers (810
Japan plans to deploy in the year to March 2008 an
anti-missile shield consisting of the land-based PAC-3
as well as the seaborne Standard Missile 3 (SM-3).
SM-3s intercept ballistic missiles when they reach their
highest point outside of the atmosphere and PAC-3
missiles are used to destroy missiles that evade SM-3
Japan and the United States have been engaged in joint
technological research on a missile defence system since
1999, a year after North Korea fired a suspected
ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific.
The Tokyo government has asked Washington to allow a
Japanese firm to build the PAC-3 to help the Japanese
defence industry maintain its manufacturing technology,
the leading business daily said.
Relying totally on imports for PAC-3 missiles would have
resulted in substantial losses for the Japanese defence
The licensed production will enhance technological
cooperation between the US and Japanese defence
industries and help Japanese contractors maintain and
boost their technological levels.
The two countries are also negotiating on joint
development of a next-generation system to replace the
SM-3, it added.
Tokyo is expected to map out by the end of the year a
new defense policy that advocates more investment in
anti-missile and anti-terrorism resources and less
spending on tanks, ships and other conventional
The two governments are expected to sign an official
agreement on the licensed PAC-3 production early in
In the initial year of deployment, Japan may have to buy
PAC-3 missles produced by Lockeed but Mitsubishi is
expected to replace the major US defence contractor in
supplying the missiles afterwards. Officials at the
Defence Agency or Mitsubishi were not immediately
available to comment on the report.