Home Americas Japan’s newest destroyer class completes SM-3, SM-2 missile trials

Japan’s newest destroyer class completes SM-3, SM-2 missile trials

Standard Missile 3 (SM–3) Block IIA fired from the JS Maya (DDG 179)
JS Maya launching an SM-3 missile during the live fire trial off Hawaii. Photo: Japan defense ministry

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) have completed a two-week live fire demonstration involving the newest class of Japanese Aegis destroyers.

The missile launch test, designated Japan Flight Test Mission–07 (JFTM–07) was held on November 16 and 19 off the coast of Hawaii in cooperation with the US Navy.

The first live fire event demonstrated a successful engagement of a Standard Missile 3 (SM–3) Block IIA fired from the JS Maya (DDG 179), the lead 27DDG destroyer that was handed over to the navy in 2020.

JS Maya tracked and fired on a medium range ballistic missile T4-E target, successfully destroying it over the Pacific Ocean. This is the first time a Japanese Maya-class destroyer has fired an SM–3. SM-3 Block IIA is an advanced interceptor missile for ballistic missile defense that was jointly developed by the US and Japan.

The second live fire exercise demonstrated a successful integrated air and missile defense scenario using SM–3 Blk IB and a SM–2 Blk IIIB missiles fired from the JS Haguro (DDG-180), the second of the two ships in the class which entered service in March 2021.

Haguro engaged a short range ballistic missile (SRBM) target and a BQM-177 target drone with the missiles.

“The success of this joint test marks a critical milestone in demonstrating, for the first time, a live fire of an SM-3 Blk IIA from a Japanese ship,” said MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill.

“The cooperative development of the SM-3 Blk IIA by the Japanese government, US government and industry team, and the integration with the Aegis Weapon System on Japan’s Ballistic Missile Defense-capable ships, is a remarkable achievement and vitally important in defending against an ever-increasing threat.”

JFTM–07 is a significant milestone in the cooperation between Japan and the US in the area of missile defense. JFTM–07’s goal was to support the JMSDF ballistic missile defense modernization and certification of the Japanese Aegis Weapon System Baseline J7 and Maya-class destroyer deployment.

Maya-class destroyers are an upgraded version of the Atago-class, equipped with Raytheon’s Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC), a system that shares/compiles sensor data from multiple platforms into one picture. By commissioning the two destroyers, Japan is joining an exclusive club of countries with the CEC capability. In addition to the US and Australia, which operate Raytheon’s CEC, France is the only other country to have developed this capability.

JS Maya and JS Haguro are the largest JMSDF destroyers built so far, which will enable Japan to integrate and test railguns and laser systems on the ships. The 170-meter ships displace 8,200 tons and feature combined gas turbine-electric and gas turbine (COGLAG) with two GE LM2500-30 gas turbines.