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Friday, July 29, 2016, 10:30

Japan to upgrade Patriot batteries for Olympics

By Reuters

Japan to upgrade Patriot batteries for Olympics
Japanese soldiers prepare to refuel Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile launchers deployed at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo on April 15, 2013. (AFP PHOTO / Toru YAMANAKA)
TOKYO - Japan is upgrading its Patriot PAC-3 missile defence system in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, adding range and accuracy needed to intercept more advanced Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) ballistic missiles, four sources with knowledge of the plan said.

The move represents the most significant upgrade to Japan's missile defence system in a decade and is part of an increase in military spending in the region, where geopolitical tensions are rising.

The rollout of the new advanced Missile Segment Enhancement, which could double the range of the current PAC-3 missiles to around 30 km, will likely start next year, said the sources, who were not authorised to speak publicly about the project.

"The upgraded PAC-3 is necessary to counter the Musudan," said one source, referring to Pyongyang's intermediate-range ballistic missile.

DPRK in June test-fired what appeared to be two Musudan rockets. The first failed, but the second traveled 400 km, more than halfway towards the southwest coast of Japan and reached a height of 1,000 km - enough altitude to give its warhead a range of more than 3,000 km.

Experts said that test represented a technological advance for the Pyongyang regime, which is also developing nuclear weapons.

It puts it one step closer to being able to lob a warhead that could plunge to its target at speeds of several kilometres a second, potentially too fast for the current PAC-3 batteries that are the last line of defense against missile strikes.

ROK's military operates the older PAC-2 system and has a program to replace it with the PAC-3 system by 2018, an ROK defence ministry official said. US forces based in the country were also planning to upgrade their PAC-3 batteries covering the capital Seoul, the official added.

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