The US wants to protect its Asian allies with SM-3 missiles

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec28,2023 #Asian #missiles
The US wants to protect its Asian allies with SM-3 missiles 0
The US wants to protect its Asian allies with SM-3 missiles 0

The US wants to strengthen the Asian air defense shield with SM-3 missiles

SM-3 Block IIA missile during testing in February

After North Korea simultaneously launched four ballistic missiles on March 6, the US began deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea.

`THAAD will improve South Korea’s defense capabilities, protecting US forces deployed here but does not have a range long enough to protect Japan,` said Bruce Klingner, senior research expert at the Heritage Foundation.

To overcome the gap in this missile shield, the US plans to deploy warships carrying RIM-161 SM-3 Block IIA interceptor missiles to East Asia to enhance the ability to protect allies in 2018.

SM-3 is known as the `ballistic missile killer from outer space`, compatible with the Aegis combat system deployed on many US and allied warships.

The difference between THAAD and SM-3 lies in the interception range.

This is the reason why former President Obama’s administration considered SM-3 a tool to curb North Korea’s missile ambitions, especially short- and medium-range missiles.

The US wants to protect its Asian allies with SM-3 missiles

The USS Hopper test-fires the SM-3 missile.

The SM-3 Block IIA version was jointly developed by the US and Japan to intercept medium-range (MRBM) and long-range (IRBM) ballistic missiles.

In February, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and Raytheon corporation test-launched the Block IIA variant from a warship off the coast of Hawaii, successfully destroying a medium-range ballistic missile in flight, marking a step forward.

Risk of arms race

In theory, this deterrence measure could cause Pyongyang to stop testing missiles, but it cannot guarantee that North Korean missiles will be completely destroyed outside the atmosphere.

`Shooting down North Korean missiles with Aegis warships is an aggressive and reckless act,` warned Bruce Bennett, an analyst at the RAND Research Institute.

The US wants to protect its Asian allies with SM-3 missiles

North Korea’s simultaneous launch of four missiles on March 6.

Meanwhile, arms control observer Mark Gubrud said that the deployment of SM-3-equipped warships to East Asia will face opposition from China and Russia.

The Pentagon appears worried about the possibility of North Korea and potential opponents using multiple warhead missiles or decoys to deceive interception systems.

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