US and Japan sign agreement to design hypersonic missile interceptor

The US and Japan will design a missile to intercept hypersonic missiles, the GPI. Image: Raytheon.

Japan's governments and United States reinforced their partnership in aerospace defense last Wednesday (15), with the signing of a bilateral agreement to develop a missile capable of intercepting hypersonic missiles. 

The agreement is a response to the growth of the hypersonic threat in the region, as China and Russia already have these types of weapons, capable of exceeding Mach 5 (5 times the speed of sound). North Korea also invests in similar projects.

The document was signed between the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the United States Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and provides for the development of the Glide Phase Interceptor (GPI). As its name suggests, the interceptor will shoot down hypersonic missiles in their glide phase, before they accelerate to hypersonic speeds, making interception even more difficult.

China has the DF-17 missile, which carries the DF-ZF hypersonic glider. Photo: 颐园居
China has the DF-17 missile, which carries the DF-ZF hypersonic glider. Photo: 颐园居

“By pursuing an agreement on GPI development, the U.S. and Japan will strengthen regional deterrence while also reinforcing long-standing missile defense cooperation between the two countries.”, says to note from the Pentagon. 

According to the portal Defense News, the GPI will be in service from mid-2030, deployed in warships which have the Aegis combat system. The Aegis System is present on destroyers of the Arleigh-Burke and Ticonderoga classes of the US Navy and the Maya, Kongo and Atago classes of the Japanese Defense Navy. 

The project will take advantage of the experience of both nations. Japan will focus in the development of the interceptor rocket engine and the propulsion system for the “destruction vehicle” (warhead). The US will contribute target detection and missile guidance systems.

In total, the two nations will invest US$30 billion in the project, with Tokyo paying 1/3 of the amount. In the US, Raytheon (RTX) and Northrop Grumman are competing for the GPI contract. In Japan, the contractors are still to be selected. The agreement signed this month is the result of a bilateral conference in August last year, where countries were already discussing designing the GPI in collaboration.


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Gabriel Centeno

Author Gabriel Centeno

Journalism student at UFRGS, spotter and military aviation enthusiast.

Categories: Military, News, News

Tags: United States, Japan, hypersonic missile