Posts Tagged ‘Patriot Batteries’

Japan Deploys Missile-Defense Systems Following North Korea Threat

August 12, 2017

Patriot batteries would be used to intercept missiles or debris falling on Japanese territory

Patriot missiles were deployed in Konan, Japan, on July 12.
Patriot missiles were deployed in Konan, Japan, on July 12. PHOTO: REUTERS
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By Alastair Gale
The Wall Street Journal
Aug. 11, 2017 11:53 p.m. ET

TOKYO—Japan set up missile-defense systems Saturday in four western locations to protect surrounding areas from missiles that North Korea has said it may fire over those regions, the Defense Ministry said.

The deployment of Patriot batteries to Hiroshima and three other prefectures follows a threat by North Korea to launch missiles that would fly over the Japanese prefectures before hitting waters near Guam.

The Patriot batteries would be used to intercept missiles or missile debris falling on Japanese territory, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. Japan typically deploys Patriot batteries to sensitive locations during times of increased tension with North Korea.

After North Korea fired a rocket over Japan in 1998, Tokyo invested billions of dollars on missile defense, including land-based Patriot-missile batteries and sea-based Aegis naval destroyers.

An escalation of threats between Washington and Pyongyang has rattled world leaders, injected uncertainty into markets, and sparked fear of a nuclear showdown. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday takes a look back at the week. Photo: AP
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While the Patriot system is only able to destroy missiles at a relatively close range, the Aegis destroyers might be able to intercept missiles that pass over Japan on North Korea’s declared flight path toward Guam.

If Japan was attacked directly, it would have about 10 minutes to take down a North Korean missile, but the threat of multiple missiles fired simultaneously increases the challenge significantly, experts say.

New national defense guidelines allow Japan to help defend its allies, such as the U.S., during conflicts. But any military action taken when Japan isn’t facing a direct threat would be controversial because of the its pacifist constitution.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Japan would be allowed to hit a missile headed toward Guam if it was judged to be an existential threat to Japan.

Narushige Michishita, an military expert at Tokyo’s National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said both Japan and the U.S. would likely hold off on intercepting any North Korean missiles unless they represented an imminent threat to either country’s territory.

A failed interception would be a strategic setback and the U.S. could instead gain intelligence from observing the full flight of a North Korean missile and potentially recovering missile debris, he said.

Japan and the U.S. are currently working together on a new type of missile-defense system. known as Standard Missile-3 Block IIA, to shoot down medium-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Japan’s ruling party is also discussing investing in additional military hardware to defend against North Korean threats, including building up the ability to attack North Korean missile bases.

Write to Alastair Gale at alastair.gale@wsj.com

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Turkey Asks NATO Allies For Defense Support — NATO is eager to avoid any international escalation of the Syrian conflict

October 8, 2015

By Robin Emmott, Sabine Siebold and Phil Stewart

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Turkey appealed to its NATO allies on Thursday to shore up missile defenses in the country aimed at shooting down Syrian rockets, as Germany said again that it will withdraw its Patriot batteries and the United States was set to do the same.

NATO is now waiting for other nations to plug those gaps.

Days after Russian jets violated Turkey’s airspace near Syria, Ankara’s NATO envoy urged the U.S.-led alliance to continue to deploy air defense systems, according to two people briefed on talks at a defense ministers meeting in Brussels.

While NATO’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg, said he was prepared to send ground forces to defend Turkey, the situation raised questions about NATO’s strategy in the country, which shares a border with both Syria and Iraq.

Germany’s defense minister said Berlin would go ahead with plans to switch off its Patriot batteries in Turkey next week and withdraw most of the soldiers operating them before Christmas. All soldiers and materiel are due to be withdrawn by the end of January.

“This decision (to withdraw the Patriots) is right,” Ursula von der Leyen said as she arrived for the meeting.

“The question is what danger can be warded off in which way,” she said. The comments appeared to suggest that the Turkish air force is capable of intercepting fighter jets.

Backing up that suggestion and acknowledging that there were discussions about ways to reassure Turkey and deter Russia, Stoltenberg told journalists after the morning session: “What we now see is other kinds of challenges. But again, we are discussing with different allies, with Turkey, how and in what format we can support them.”

As Russian and U.S. planes fly combat missions over the same country for the first time since World War Two, NATO is eager to avoid any international escalation of the Syrian conflict that has unexpectedly turned the alliance’s attention away from Ukraine following Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year.

NATO deployed its Patriot missiles in January 2013 in Turkey and Spain now has batteries in place to confront ballistic missiles launched by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

The United States will withdraw its Patriot deployment any day for modernization. France and Italy are understood to be willing to join Spain, but no decision has been taken, people familiar with the discussion say.

Spain’s Defense Minister Pedro Morenes said this week that although he was concerned by Russia’s incursion into Turkish airspace, his nation’s Patriots were deployed to defend “against attacks with missiles coming from Syria”.

Since 2012, NATO has detected several hundred ballistic missile launches with Syria, emphasizing what it sees as the need for an effective defense of Turkey.

READY, WILLING AND ABLE

Officials at the U.S.-led alliance are still smarting from Russia’s weekend incursions into Turkey’s airspace near northern Syria. In public comments, Stoltenberg says the alliance’s support of its 28 allies is unwavering.

“NATO is ready and able to defend all allies, including Turkey against any threats,” he said as he arrived for the meeting.

“NATO has already responded by increasing our capacity, our ability, our preparedness to deploy forces including to the south, including in Turkey,” he said, noting that Russia’s air and cruise missile strikes were “reasons for concern”.

The incursions of two Russian fighters in Turkish airspace on Saturday and Sunday has brought the Syria conflict right up to NATO’s borders, testing the alliance’s ability to deter a newly assertive Russia without seeking direct confrontation.

While the United States has ruled out military cooperation with Russia in Syria, NATO defense ministers will discuss how to encourage Russia to help resolve the crisis, betting that Moscow also wants to avoid being bogged down in a long conflict.

For 40 years, NATO’s central task was deterring Russia in the east during the Cold War, but now, after a decade-long involvement in Afghanistan, the alliance is facing a reality-check close to home, with multiple threats near its borders.

Divisions between eastern NATO members, who want to keep the focus on the Ukraine crisis, and others who fret about Islamic State militants, risk hampering a unified response from the 28-nation North Atlantic alliance.

France and Britain, NATO’s two main European powers, are understood to be willing to see the alliance use its new 5,000-strong rapid reaction force beyond NATO borders, potentially helping stabilize post-conflict governments in Libya or Syria.

Others nations, including Poland and the Baltics, want a permanent NATO presence on their territory to act as a credible deterrent to any further effort by Russian President Vladimir Putin to gain influence in former Soviet states.

(Additional reporting by Kate Holton in London; Editing by Louise Ireland)