The US regime and Japan are expected to announce a program to jointly develop a hyper-sonic missile interceptor as a counter to ultra-fast weapons unveiled by Russia, China, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in recent years.
The announcement is expected at a trilateral summit in Maryland to which US President Joe Biden has invited Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida as well as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, two of Washington’s strongest allies in East Asia.
At the summit, Biden is expected to push the two countries to look beyond their troubled past – in which Korea was a brutally subjugated colony of the Japanese Empire – and join forces in yet another anti-China bloc in the Indo-Pacific region.
The USA and Japan have developed other anti-ballistic missile weapons before, but hyper-sonic weapons present a unique challenge since they are faster than most missile interceptors and have the unique ability to dodge and jink during their stealthy glide phase, making most intercept and even tracking attempts almost impossible.
The program is yet another gift to the military-industrial complex and is a move to strengthen the Pentagon’s presence in the region at a time when it’s increasing its pressure on China across multiple spectra.
What surprises me is the willingness of the Japanese to help fund such a program, over the 10-year development forecast of the new missile development, given past history of repeated failures and extensions seen in previous US ballistics missile defense programs in the Pacific.
It may be that due to decades of stagflation and an aging and shrinking population, Japan sees this as its only choice for a defense against potential missiles from North Korea and China.
While a win for the massive defense industrial establishment in both countries, it represents no real change in the US approach to the emerging multi-polar world – a kind of reactionary and politically narcissistic ‘global containment’ policy.
George Kennan must be rolling over in his grave, referring to the mid-20th century US ambassador to the Soviet Union who authored the West’s Cold War-era anti-communist containment policy.
Along with the missile program, a Japan-US satellite constellation network to improve early warning and tracking will show results more rapidly, adding that this surveillance capability will likely expand to include other US allies in the region.
This including the Philippines, as last year’s election of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has resulted in a pro-US shift, and the USA has been working to influence Thai politics as well. But also Vietnam and Australia are turning the tables, with also Canberra producing missiles for the USA.
Kwiatkowski noted that a major hurdle for developing a weapon capable of shooting down a hyper-sonic missile is that one needs to first develop hyper-sonic missiles, too – something the USA has struggled to accomplish.
Perhaps the US will concurrently successfully develop its own hyper-sonic missile. Lockheed Martin’s aircraft-launched prototype, the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (ARRW) was de-funded, and the Pentagon seems to be looking at a ground-launched hypersonic cruise missile.
A February 2023 Congressional Research Service study indicated that the services requested less than $5 billion for research in this area for FY2023, and double that at $11 Billion for FY2024.
Perhaps this will be an area where AI will be used to simulate the latest Chinese or Russian hyper-sonic missile technology, which may continue to evolve and advance in coming years.
The hyper-sonic missiles that Russia used in the attacks on Ukraine are known as Kinzhals, or daggers. They are 8 meters long. Some experts say this type of missile flies as fast as 6,000 km p/h, which would be around Mach 5. Others say it flies at Mach 9 or even Mach 10.
Either way, it’s fast. So fast, in fact, that the air pressure in front of the weapon forms a plasma cloud as it moves, absorbing radio waves, the weapons experts at US website Military.com explain.
The DPRK has announced several tests of such a weapon, but it’s unclear if the device is ready for deployment. Iran has also announced successful hyper-sonic weapons tests.
This ship/land-to-air missile is a nearly $1 billion Raytheon program, on the books for a few years now, and I would expect that the Japanese contribution is access to Pacific Ocean exercises and testing.
This program, while defensive by description, will increase the ‘necessity’ for US Navy and Air Force presence in the Japan arena, which when considered with the again-growing US military presence in the Philippines will allow for Pentagon training and practice that triangulates with the South China Sea.
Japan has also made recent security and trade agreements with the newly elected pro-US Marcos Jr. government in Manila.
Kwiatkowski noted the logical statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin that by the time the USA can develop a hyper-sonic interceptor, Russia will have invented something better.
Russia was the first nation to develop hyper-sonic weapons, having been forced into devising a method to defeat the rapidly growing US ballistic missile defense network after Washington unilaterally abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002.
Under rational circumstances, the Pentagon should be attempting to buy or steal hyper-sonic technology, rather than play continual catch-up, wasting years and billions of dollars.
Under moral and ethical circumstances, we should be taking care of Americans at home, rather than attempting to maintain a global empire using the neocon ideas, and our leftover and decaying military might of the 20th century.
But any state, in its decline, takes care of itself and its friends first and last, and for the USA this means greasing palms overseas and throwing another trillion or more into the pockets of the defense industrial complex.
This needs to be expanded to include the pharmaceutical and media industries – which in turn does everything it can to elect the Congress and the president, to keep things profitable for them.
I think the challenge for the rest of the world is how to peacefully coexist with the US security state as it processes through severe external and internal stresses.
Its poorly thought-out and irrational military goals, persistent poor political leadership, a cratering fiscal forecast, and a slow rise of anti-war populism at home.
Unfortunately, this is a most dangerous time for everyone.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2023.