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Defense ministry to test own cooperative engagement capabilities for MSDF ships

The latest Maya-type destroyer, which will introduce the U.S. cooperative engagement capability (CEC) system, is seen under construction at a dock in Yokohama's Isogo Ward on July 30, 2018, in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kimi Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- The Ministry of Defense has decided to develop its own "cooperative engagement capability" (CEC) system that would enable Self-Defense Force (SDF) units to share enemy information in real time such as locations and carry out joint counterattacks against enemy weapons such as cruise missiles, according to ministry officials.

The ministry included 6.9 billion yen in its budget request for fiscal 2019 to conduct research aimed at developing high-speed, high-capacity communications devices necessary for a CEC system. The ministry wants to complete a prototype system by fiscal 2022, and begin operational tests aboard Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) destroyers in fiscal 2023. Eventually, the ministry intends to upgrade SDF aircraft with the Japanese CEC equipment and operate them along with new destroyers using an American equivalent system.

The ministry decided to go ahead with acquiring indigenous capabilities after examining the risk of depending on foreign supplies and the possibility of lowering costs to acquire Japanese equipment.

The SDF already have systems to share the location and other information about enemy assets captured by radars on ships and aircraft. But because of time differences, attack vessels and fighter jets need to update target location data using their own radars when they launch missiles. As many countries are improving their attack and evasion capabilities by making their missiles faster or their vessels and aircraft stealthier, it is becoming difficult for a single ship or aircraft to counter enemy actions.

The U.S. CEC system will be introduced for the two latest Maya-type destroyers to be completed in fiscal 2019 and 2020. The ministry is considering equipping up to 13 E2D early warning aircraft with the capability to be deployed in full in fiscal 2019 or later. But the American system is expensive with a price tag of several billion yen. As the Air Self-Defense Force gave up equipping E2D aircraft with the CEC system, the ministry decided to develop a Japanese system.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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