The US State Department has approved a possible foreign military sale of Standard Missile 6 (SM-6) Block I missiles to Japan.
The missiles and MK 21 Vertical Launch System (VLS) canisters that have been cleared for sale would be employed by the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) Atago-class and Maya-class destroyers.
A total of 32 SM-6 Block I missiles – to be delivered in two tranches of 16 each – were requested by Japan under a deal that would have an estimated cost of $450 million.
“The proposed sale will improve Japan’s Air Defense and Ballistic Missile Defense capabilities against potential adversaries in the region. It will also provide the US-Japan Security Alliance with the latest and most advanced capabilities, reducing Japan’s reliance on US forces for the defense of Japan and further improving US-Japan military interoperability,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.
The SM-6 is a long-range, multi-mission missile that can strike ballistic missiles and operate from either land or at sea. It can hit in either of two phases of an attacking missile’s flight: shortly after launch or in its terminal phase, as it’s falling to earth.
Propelled by a solid rocket booster and a dual thrust solid rocket motor, the 1.5-ton missile has a range of close to 500 kilometers. In service with the US Navy, the SM-6 completed development and achieved initial operational capability in November 2013.
It can be employed by destroyers that are equipped with the Baseline 9 AEGIS combat system.
The State Department approved the missiles for Japan after previously giving its green light for their sale to Australia, and South Korea, all of whom have ships featuring the AEGIS Baseline 9.