Should Japan buy the Arrow-3 missile defense system from Israel? Would Israel sell it to Japan? These are critical questions because Japan’s missile defense capabilities today are severely limited.
Japan has the US THAAD system, and it has Patriot PAC-3. Japan also has the Aegis naval BMD featuring the latest SM-3 (RIM-161) Block II-A missiles that can hit tactical ballistic missiles.
But none of these systems are ideal as the North Korean missile threat continues to ramp up, and as North Korea continues to pursue atomic and hydrogen bombs that can be mounted on a long-range missile.
The latest development was the successful launch of an ICBM-like missile by North Korea. Luckily, observers say that the missile’s nose-cone broke up on reentering the atmosphere indicating that the North Koreans may not yet have good reentry technology for the warheads of its exoatmospheric long-range missiles.
In any case, until North Korea can actually run a successful test series of an atomic nuclear warhead on reentry, there is no way to judge accuracy and reliability. This means it will be some time before North Korea really poses a nuclear missile threat unless, of course the North Korean’s get help from China or Russia. Anyone looking at the North Korean displays of missile prowess, or the test firings must come away with the strong sense that North Korea is getting a lot of outside help in their missile development.
The US has been silent about the various transfers of technology to North Korea, perhaps for diplomatic reasons. But the practical consequence is that the timetable of the North Korean threat depends on whether or not these under-the-table transactions continue. (We must always keep in mind that as relations between the US and Russia, and US and China deteriorate, the likelihood of technology transfers increases.)
Meanwhile the US, South Korea and Japan need to prepare for the coming danger, whether it is in a year or two or further out in time. Given the proximity of South Korea and Japan to the threat, warning time is minimal and there is no way to tell whether the launch is a test or an actual attack.
THAAD as an air defense system can tackle intermediate range ballistic missiles, but only in the terminal phase of their flight. Because the US uses a hit to kill technology (meaning that the THAAD interceptor missile must actual hit the incoming missile, not just explode somewhat near the missile), accuracy is everything but it is difficult in the final stages of flight because of wobbling by the incoming missile and due to winds and other atmospheric conditions affecting the THAAD interceptor. That may explain why THAAD tests have only been partially successful.
The Israeli Arrow 3 system is different. Supported by the Israeli contractor Israel Aerospace Industries and by Israel’s IMI Systems both partnering with Boeing in the United States, Arrow 3 is an evolved system with sophisticated long-range radars and command and control systems. Arrow 3 is the only ballistic missile defense system that has shot down an enemy rocket hundreds of miles from where it was launched. Unlike THAAD, the Israeli Arrow 3 is an exoatmospheric system that can hit an enemy missile above 100 km and at a range of more than 2,400 km (60+ miles altitude, around 1,500 miles distant).
It turns out that the Arrow 3 range is perfect to meet Japan’s requirements for missile defense. Arrow 3 has a special type of hit to kill system that does not have the limitations of THAAD. (The earlier version of Arrow had a proximity warhead, better suited to lower altitude hits.)
Japan should consider seriously buying Arrow 3, but it will probably require a deal with the United States and Israel where Arrow would be under the security control of the United States. Israel rightly worries deeply about any compromises to its strategic systems, and Japan has a poor internal security infrastructure that is not good enough to provide the needed assurances to either the US or Israel. However, if the security issue can be bridged than Japan would be well-served by Arrow 3.
Indeed, as the North Koreans may have to enter into a warhead testing program that is a much greater threat than missile tests with dummy warheads, the US, Japan and South Korea must think seriously about disrupting North Korea’s testing program. One way to do that is to shoot down North Korea’s test flight missiles. THAAD may not be able to do the job, nor will Aegis and certainly not Patriot. Arrow 3 is the only defensive system around that is likely to knock out North Korea’s test flights and, inter alia perhaps convince the North Korean’s that their missile-nuclear gambit is a clear and present danger to their survival.
" THAAD may not be able to do the job, nor will Aegis and certainly not Patriot. "
If Bryen is correct, as an ignorant I should understand that these US systems are useless, right ? So who is helping NK, Israel ? Maybe yes, just enough to get something flying; and they are smart enough to kill two birds with an Arrow 3. Meantime, Moscow and Beijing are sharing a great fun for the Anglo / japs.
Sadly, another article by a so called journalist peddling "FAKE NEWS"!!
Israel has shown during the last conflict with PLO bombardment that it can shoot down every missiles that was directed against Israeli towns. That rocket system was much LESS complex compared to Arrow . Have Americans proven their system better in combat conditions?
Who is this guy Stephen Bryen? Can’t you guys see he is peddling for the Israelis?
"as the head of the Jewish Institute for National Security affairs"
Now, why would Stephen Bryen not mention this affiliation in his sales pitch here?
Perry Kamath There never has been a PLO bombardment, so what nonsense are you talkng about?
Can Asia times clean up it’s act and stop using Israeli terrorist blogger like Stephen Breyer, Goldman, Spengler… And other Natanyahu paid Zionist? … How low do you plan to go?
It is not a sales pitch. I don’t work directly or indirectly for any company or government involved. Yes I like the Arrow 3 because it works. We need to do something to strengthen defenses against N.K. Any suggestions? I really resent your comment it was a sales pitch.
idiotic comment not worth responding to
I am not peddling for anyone and you are dead wrong in making an unsub stantiated assertion. I was the Director of the Defense Technology Security Administration and a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and I headed a major defense company in the U.S. In no case do I have any connection to the Arrow program.
@Stephen Bryen ….my suggestion is that USA stops it’s threat to N. Korea, stop it’s twice s a year military drill with S.Korea. remove it’s troops and open up trade. What brought Soviet Union down was opening of trade not the Pershing II missiles in Europe. Sanctions and threats will only empower their regime. Lastly, stop peddling products from the most racist apartheid regime on Earth.
Stephen Bryen , that’s why Arrow 3 works
Japan must act agressively in fortifying its military defensive and offensive capabilities or it will be too late. A 3rd world war is incomparable to the previous wars that is why Japan must adapt, intensify and reinvent itself to address the new threats associated in this eventuality.
Moe Curly ACTUALLY IT WAS IRAN’S(AND NK’S) NEWEST RPXY HAMAS.
Could it be that intercepting the missles over NK might in fact be a good choice?
James Agapios Ah James, where is the love?
WRONG.500% totally wrong. Where do you get your information from the dollar store?
SO MANY IGNORANT people here that do not undestand Israeli technology. The majority of all high tech weapons used by the US are developed by the most leading technically advanced and best defended country in the world. ISRAEL. Than again were not sure if this is just hidden anti semtism around a topic where their weapons knowledge is as advanced as their understanding of Israeli technology. They probably have NO clue that not only could they not live a day without Israeli technology but that they were born healthy as a result of it.
Anyone here that does not pedal for Israel you can join the BDS movment. Start off by turning off your computers and throwing away yoru cell phones. Stay clear of 85% of medical technology. Make sure your wife AVOIDS having an Amnio if she is pregnant and avoid Catheters and most hospital diagnostics. Thats all Israeli tech. Anyone undergoing cancer treatements. Stay clear of Interefeuron and anyone with MS stay clear of the meds…. This is all propganda Israeli medical technology you do NOT need. And we will thank you for not using it as to helping out the planet. We’re happy to oblige.
Stephen Bryen I understand you know what your talking about but unfortuantely your being singled out with a bunch of left tarded ignorant people that will all have their hand out for Israeli technology never mind the cherry tomatoes their swallowing, that we both hope they choke on. Its unreal to read such stupidity here. Sometimes you need to hang in and let the truth define ignorance regardless of being out numbered.
ISRAELI ARMS ARE AMONGST THE SMARTEST AND BEST ON THE PLANET. From guns that shoot around corner, UTS-15 never mind the C35 at 1 Trillion dollars a plane…ALL BEING DEVELOPED IN ISRAEL!
It is quite clear that you are mentally ill. Seek help before you hurt someone.
Ilya Okun, Bryan Spiegel, David Kaplan, you have no sense of humor and probably voted for Hillary. And must be bloody baptists…
How things have changed! In the 1970s and 1980s Japanese car companies (other than Subaru) would not sell cars in Israel in cooperation with the Arab embargo. Now the Japanese need Israeli technology to defend their country. I can only hope that if the Japanese show interest in Arrow 3, Israel will be smart enough to demand that Japan will change its pro Arab and pro Palestinian voting pattern.
James Agapios, you have no knowledge about the reasons Soviet Union collapsed to teach us how to best protect the US from nut heads like NK current (and former) leader. The USSR collapsed because of the arms race that bloodied her economy and Gorbachev was the first and only sane leader, who understood the eminent collapse and implemented US friendly societal freedom in his new country. Then the normal economical relationship was established.
I understand your drive to be nice with adversaries, but the niceties do not work with bullies (bandits) – they either need to be over bullied or incarcerated (isolated).
Bryan Spiegel, let’s see what the jews can do for John Mc Cain, such a good friend of yours.
For the geo politically stupid- or more commonly recognized as Anti semites hiding behind FREE SPEACH. Please open your eyes and choke on this.
Stephen Bryen Excellent column. Congrats to our mutual friend, David Goldman for publishing it.
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