The State Department has approved the potential sale of Standard Missile-3 Block IIA interceptors to Japan, which co-developed the weapon with the United States.
The approved deal would involve selling four SM-3 Block IIA interceptors to Japan at an estimated value of $133.3 million, according to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The principal contractors on the potential sale are Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems, DSCA said in a Jan. 9 announcement.
"The proposed sale will provide Japan with an increased ballistic missile defense capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there," the agency states.
The SM-3 Block IIA is the newest Standard Missile, designed with a larger body to fly faster and farther than earlier variants in order to intercept short- to intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The effort began in 2006 as a cooperative development program between Raytheon and Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
But in a flight test conducted last summer by the Missile Defense Agency, an SM-3 Block IIA failed to intercept a medium-range ballistic missile target. The test came on the heels of MDA approving the interceptor for production. U.S. forces plan to field the SM-3 Block IIA sometime in 2018.