JDS Kirishima. Creative Commons photo, Flickr user SpecMode

The guided missile destroyer JDS Kirishima is to visit Hawaii next month to participate in a Ballistic Missile Defense test. Kirishima was recently upgraded at Nagasaki with the capability to shoot down ballistic missiles. Kirishima was the fourth and last ship of the Kongo-class destroyers to be upgraded, and with her Japan now has four destroyers capable of engaging ballistic missiles. Kirishima has been out since at least July, when it was spotted at Yokosuka. Before the upgrade Kirishima also acted as tracking ship last year during the North Korean missile test.

With this fourth ship converted to shoot down ballistic missiles Japan now has 100% redundancy in the minimum number of missiles needed to fend off a North Korean launch. Japan really only needs two ships for the job, but warships are often in port, or in dock for upgrades, etc. Japan would need at least three ships to protect the country from a launch from China.

According to the article three Japanese destroyers have undertaken BMD tests at Hawaii, with two successful shootdowns. These would be Kirishima‘s sister ships Kongo, Myoko, and Chokai. Each test costs approximately $55 million USD each and is apparently a post-upgrade graduation test. It’s a testimony to how seriously Japan takes the ballistic missile threat that it tests every ship.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch