Asian Nation Japan interested in joining NATO missile consortium

Highlights:

  • Asian riser Japan is interested in joining a NATO missile building consortium.
  • It would give Tokyo its first taste of a multinational defence project.
  • The 12-country NATO consortium oversees development and shares the costs of the SeaSparrow missile, an advanced ship-borne weapon designed to destroy anti-ship sea-skimming missiles and attack aircraft.
  • The missile is made by U.S. weapons firms Raytheon (RTN.N) and General Dynamics (GD.N).
  • Earlier,in May, Japanese naval officers traveled to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in The Hague to learn more about the consortium, Japan's navy and a US source familiar with the trip told Reuters.
  • The consortium, established in 1968 by four countries including the United States, is set to develop an upgraded version of the SeaSparrow in the coming years.
  • Having Japan on board would spread the project's costs, but Washington also sees a role for Japan in leading multinational military industrial partnerships in Asia at a time when China's military modernisation and assertiveness is alarming many countries in the region.
  • Japan has one of the most advanced military industrial bases in the world, but companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have long made weapons only for the Self Defense Forces because of the arms export ban.