Construction of two Japanese AEGIS ASEV super-destroyers will begin in 2024

The Japanese Defense Ministry announced that it had obtained 373 billion yen to begin construction of the two AEGIS ASEV super-destroyers intended to replace the AEGIS Ashore system canceled in 2021, as part of the 2024 budget. Heavily armed, these 12-ton ships will have the task of protecting the Japanese archipelago from North Korean and Chinese ballistic and cruise missiles, but also of carrying out, if necessary, preventive or retaliatory strikes against its possible aggressors.

Between China and North Korea, Japan is potentially the target of several hundred medium-range (MRBM) and intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), each of which can be armed with a nuclear warhead.

To this already more than substantial threat is added more than a thousand cruise missiles, embarked on board destroyers and submarines of the Chinese Navy, as well as new hypersonic weapons such as the DF-17 armed with a glider capable of maneuvering at speeds exceeding mach 5.

Japan's double defensive curtain facing the threat of Chinese and North Korean ballistic missiles

To face these threats, Tokyo had counted on the creation of a double anti-missile defensive curtain, composed, on the one hand, of the eight AEGIS destroyers of the Kongo, Atago and Maya classes, as well as by an AEGIS Ashore device, similar to that which protects the Hawaiian Islands today. Equipped with SPY-1 radars and SM-3 and SM-6 missiles, these two successive curtains were to be able to protect the civil and military infrastructures of the Japanese archipelago, in the face of preventive Chinese or North Korean attacks.

destroyer AEGIS Maya
The Japanese Navy operates eight AEGIS destroyers: four Kongo classes, two Atago classes and two Maya classes, shown here.

However, this was without taking into account the significant population density of the country. Indeed, local residents close to the site on which the AEGIS Ashore system was to be deployed opposed this construction, fearing both the fallout of debris in the event of a successful interception, as well as the certainty of being a higher priority target. for a potential adversary, if applicable.

Regardless, in 2021, Tokyo announced the cancellation of this program, and the launch of a replacement program, with the development of two new AEGIS destroyers, specifically designed for anti-ballistic and anti-missile protection of the archipelago. .

The Japanese Navy's AEGIS ASEV super-destroyer program

Named ASEV for Aegis System Equipped Vesse, these two ships will not usurp the designation of super-destroyer, or arsenal ship. 20 meters longer than the Maya, with a length of 190 meters, they will also be 20% wider, with a main beam of 25 meters compared to 21 m. In fact, the two ships will be much more imposing than the Japanese or American Aegis destroyers, with a tonnage of 12 tons, almost half as heavy as the 000 tons of the Maya.

Above all, the ASEVs will be very well armed, with 128 vertical silos to accommodate anti-ballistic and anti-missile SM-3 and SM-6 missiles, but also Tomahawk cruise missiles. Let us recall, in fact, that the Japanese authorities have amended the constitution to allow the use of cruise missiles against an opposing territory, including during preventive strikes, which was until now considered to be contrary to the exclusively defensive posture imposed on the forces. Japanese self-defense forces.

SM-3 missile
The SM-3 anti-ballistic missile can intercept targets in ballistic flight at an altitude ranging from 80 to more than 150 km. On the other hand, it is incapable of intercepting vectors evolving lower, or not following a classic ballistic trajectory.

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