Japan is seen close to deciding to acquire two additional destroyers outfitted with Aegis missile defense technology as a means of responding to the growing missile danger posed by North Korea, the Japan Times reported on Sunday.
The Defense Ministry is anticipated to ink an agreement to purchase one Aegis warship in fiscal 2015 and another in fiscal 2016. The destroyers will probably enter service no later than fiscal 2020, according to an unidentified ministry insider.
The source said Tokyo intends to publicize its plans for enhancing the island nation's antimissile capabilities before 2013 is over.
There are presently four operating Aegis warships equipped with U.S.-made Standard Missile 3 interceptors. An additional two warships are being retrofitted to carry the Aegis technology and are anticipated to enter naval service in about five years. The purchase of the two new warships would bring Japan's Aegis fleet to a total of eight vessels.