Japan and the United States on Monday revealed a new agreement that would send an additional sophisticated U.S. X-band radar system to the island nation in accordance with efforts to address the evolving North Korean ballistic missile danger, the New York Times reported.
One U.S. AN/TPY-2 radar unit is already deployed in Japan at Shariki. The exact geographical positioning of the second long-range radar system has yet to be determined; a U.S. expert team is in Japan to address that matter, unidentified officials said.
"The purpose of this is to enhance our ability to defend Japan," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in Tokyo following a meeting with his Japanese opposite, Satoshi Morimoto. "It's also designed to help forward-deployed U.S. forces, and it will also be effective in protecting the U.S. homeland from the North Korean ballistic missile threat."
The new radar would offer greater missile detection capacities and open up room for movement by U.S. warships that provide antimissile resources in the region, according to officials.
The agreement is one component of a broader U.S. military effort to strengthen missile defenses in the Asia-Pacific region. Washington is pursuing bilateral agreements with a number of regional allies.
Morimoto said a schedule for fielding the second U.S. radar in Japan had yet to be finalized, the Associated Press reported.
Though Washington and Tokyo publicly insist the radar is aimed at countering North Korea, its deployment is expected to frustrate China, which is deeply suspicious the United States is aiming to block its projection of power in the Asia-Pacific.
Pentagon officials said Panetta is scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Beijing with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is set to become the nation's new leader this fall, according to a Washington Post report.