Friday, March 30, 2012

Ballistic Missile Defense Takes Center Stage in the Pacific

News broke yesterday that North Korea has been stepping up Air Force training and has begun fueling their rocket scheduled for launch next month. South Korea has already claimed they will shoot the rocket down if it crosses into their territory, and now Japan is saying the same thing.

Japan will shoot down any part of the long-range rocket that North Korea plans to launch next month that enters its territory, the Japanese defense minister, Naoki Tanaka, said Friday.

Speaking at a news conference, Tanaka said he had issued the official order after instructing the Japanese military earlier in the week to prepare the country's missile defense shield against the planned rocket launch.

North Korea announced earlier this month that it would launch a rocket carrying a satellite between April 12 and 16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the Communist state.
I have no idea how South Korea could shoot the missile down. Patriot 2 missiles and SM-2 missiles simply don't have the range except under the most optimistic circumstances to shoot down the missile, but Japan fields better technology and has more capabilities like SM-3 to shoot it down.

The US Navy put the X-Band Radar Platform to sea last week, and from everything I hear - the West Sea is getting crowded with naval forces.

The launch is expected in two weeks. The US is rightfully leading from behind on this issue, supporting Japan and South Korea side by side but staying out of the spotlight. With USS Enterprise (CVN 65) soon to be heading towards the 5th Fleet AOR, I expect the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to rotate back to the Pacific, and sometime over the next 2 weeks I suspect we will see the USS George Washington (CVN 73) get underway.

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