- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Japan has signed deals worth nearly $1 billion to purchase U.S. and NATO weapons and military hardware, State Department officials announced this week.

Over half of the $944 million weapons package will consist of a bulk buy of the SM-3 missile interceptor weapon. The Japanese will purchase $561 million worth of the ship-based interceptor built by U.S. defense firm Raytheon.

The weapon is designed to take out a range of short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, and is a critical part of the U.S. Navy’s Ageis ballistic missile defense system. In conjunction with the land-based Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system deployed in South Korea, the two systems shield U.S. allies in the Pacific from a ballistic missile attack from North Korea.

Tokyo also procured $63 million worth of the AIM-120C-7 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles or AMRAAM missile, State Department officials said in a statement Monday. Fielded aboard American and allied warplanes, the missile is the premier weapon in the U.S. arsenal to take out medium-range targets.

The final $320.5 million in the arms deal is earmarked for a number of NATO “precision-guided munitions kits” which will allow Japanese commanders to retrofit various missiles and bombs and let them be interoperable with NATO systems.

The arms sale to Japan falls in line with the Trump administration’s pledge to funnel billions in U.S. weapons to allies in the Pacific to deter North Korea. In September, Mr. Trump announced plans to allow “a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment” for South Korea and Japan — whose military has been constitutionally limited to defensive operations since World War II.

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