U.S. Approves Sale of 56 Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB Anti-Ballistic Missiles to Japan

The U.S. State Department has approved a possible sale of up to 56 Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missiles to Japan through Foreign Military Sale (FMS) route, for an estimated cost of $1.150 billion.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on April 9.

Also included in the Japanese request are missile canisters, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ technical assistance, engineering and logistical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

The DSCA said in a statement that this proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It added that it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability.

The proposed sale will provide Japan with increased Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there.

The prime contractor for the SM-3 Block IB All Up Rounds will be Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona and for the canisters will be BAE Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3)

The RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) is a ship-based missile system used to intercept short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as a part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System (Aegis BMD).

Although primarily designed as an anti-ballistic missile (ABM), the SM-3 has also been employed in an anti-satellite capacity against a satellite at the lower end of low Earth orbit (LEO).

The interceptor uses sheer force, rather than an explosive warhead, to destroy its target. Its “kill vehicle” hits threats with the force of a 10-ton truck traveling 600 mph. This technique, referred to as “hit-to-kill,” has been likened to intercepting a bullet with another bullet.

The SM-3 is primarily used and tested by the U.S. Navy and also operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).

The SM-3 Block IB interceptor has an enhanced two-color infrared seeker and upgraded steering and propulsion capability that uses short bursts of precision propulsion to direct the missile toward incoming targets. It became operational in 2014, deploying for the first time on U.S. Navy ships worldwide.

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