US, Japan Team Up for New Kind of Missile Defense

'Glide Sphere Interceptor' will counter growing threat from hypersonic weapons
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 15, 2024 12:35 PM CDT
US, Japan Team Up to Build Hypersonic Interceptor
This photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says was a test launch of a hypersonic missile on Jan. 11, 2022 in North Korea.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Japan and the US on Wednesday signed an agreement to jointly develop a new type of missile defense system as the allies seek to defend against the growing threat of hypersonic weapons, which are possessed by China and Russia and are being tested by North Korea. The project was initially agreed upon between Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Biden at their summit in Washington last August. The Glide Sphere Interceptor is planned for deployment by the mid-2030s. More, from the AP:

  • Wednesday's agreement determines the allocation of responsibility and decision-making process, a first major step in the project, Japanese defense ministry officials said. They hope to decide on Japanese contractors and start the development process by March 2025. Japan has earmarked $490 million for initial development and testing of the interceptor, according to the ministry.

  • The cost includes making components for the two companies, Raytheon Technologies and Northrop Grumman, that are developing the weapon in a competition led by the US Missile Defense Agency. One will be chosen for the project. The MDA has estimated the cost to develop the hypersonic missile interceptor will exceed $3 billion, including Japan's share of $1 billion.
  • Hypersonic weapons are designed to exceed Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, posing a threat to regional missile-defense systems with their speed and maneuverability. Developing interceptors is a challenge. Japan's defense ministry called it a "pressing issue" and noted that hypersonic weapons in the region have dramatically improved in recent years.
  • Under the arrangement, Japan is responsible for developing a part at the interceptor's tip that separates in space to destroy the incoming warhead, as well as its rocket motors, officials said.
(More hypersonic missile stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.