Can Iranian missiles reach Japan?

Problems with US missile defense systems in Japan too

In Saudi Arabia and Japan, lower-flying and maneuverable missiles or drones apparently bypassed the radar systems of Patriot and Aegis systems

The amazing thing about the attack with drones and cruise missiles on the Saudi Aramco oil plants in Abqaiq and Khurais was that the air and missile defense, which was primarily equipped with American systems, did not even detect the attack, let alone attempt to shoot it down. Saudi Arabia has at least 5 Patriot missile defense squadrons. Even if these were not aimed at Iran, where the attack was supposed to have come from according to Saudi and American claims, the associated radar systems should at least have detected the cruise missiles. It appears to have gone a similar way in Japan with North Korean missile tests, which the Japanese military, which relies on US systems, had not discovered, as it now turns out.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the total failure of the defense systems would also happen once with the best systems. One can assume that behind the scenes there was great anger on the Saudi side, after all, Saudi Arabia is a close ally of the Trump administration and the best arms buyer, and the country is the world's largest arms importer. In 2017, Trump boasted over $ 110 billion in an arms deal with Saudi Arabia and promised that it would create many jobs. This also included the THAAD missile defense system. By October 2018, however, Saudi Arabia had "only" bought American weapons systems for 14.5 billion.

In October 2017, Saudi Arabia announced that it would also buy Russian S-400 missile defense systems. It remained unclear whether there were doubts about the efficiency of the American systems or whether, to be on the safe side, they wanted to buy the Russian systems to strengthen relations with Russia. Unlike Turkey, Saudi Arabia has not yet made a purchase. Even then, Russia touted its missile defense system as better and cheaper. Now, Vladimir Putin has again offered the Saudis to buy S-400 systems to increase security.

There have been doubts about the Patriot systems for a long time

In November 2017, a Patriot system was believed to have failed to shoot a Scud missile that was fired from Yemen at King Khalid Airport in Riyadh, 1,000 km away. However, it was alleged that the rocket was shot down shortly before the airport, including now that the attack came from Iran. US President Donald Trump blamed Iran and bragged about the power of the American weapon systems: "I think Iran fired a shot at Saudi Arabia. And our system turned it off. That shows how good we are. what we make and now we sell it all over the world. "

Missile experts under the direction of Jeffrey Shaw of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey investigated the incident and came to the conclusion that the fired Patriot missile did not hit at least the warhead of the Scud missile (US missile defense system could presumably Huthi- Do not shoot missiles). The rocket experts also pointed out that the power of the patriot system, with which hardly any of the Iraqi Scud rockets could be launched, had already been exaggerated during the Gulf War.

In addition, the rocket experts do not rule out that drones and rockets have been developed independently in Yemen, which the Houthi military claim. At least like the Quds 1 they have a missile that has no Iranian equivalent and is not just a slightly modified Soumar. It could of course be that Iran is helping the Houthi military develop other types of missiles so that they do not refer directly to Iranian assistance. However, Quds 1 missiles presumably do not have the necessary range to reach the Saudi oil plants from Yemen. However, the Houthi army's ability to shoot down drones has also improved. For example, an MQ-9 Reaper drone was shot down over Yemen in June. Subsequently it should have been even more, most recently in August.

The argument that the cruise missiles or drones must have come from Iran or Iraq because of the bullet marks is not tenable. Both can change their flight direction and therefore do not have to be fired from the direction in which they hit the target.

After the bankruptcy, US Secretary of Defense Esper quickly announced that he would send troops and equipment to Saudi Arabia primarily to improve air and missile defense systems - but not thousands of soldiers, and he also stressed that it was purely one act passive measure.

Several North Korean missiles could not be tracked

The news from Japan, which has invested a lot of money in the purchase of American sea-based Aegis and land-based Patriot missile defense systems because of North Korea, should deepen the problem for the US government and US defense companies that the systems are being tricked and the US is that Promises that the allies who placed themselves under the American missile defense system or bought into it cannot keep. Next year Japan will receive two more Aegis-equipped destroyers. The Japanese anti-missile defense system is dependent on data from American early warning satellites, which (are supposed to) register the firing of missiles. Aegis and Patriot, however, are geared towards ballistic missiles and not drones and cruise missiles that can fly lower and change course.

Japan Today released a report by the Kyodo news agency, after informants familiar with the subject, who did not want to be named, said that Japan, with Aegis systems and a radar in the countryside, would stop flying some of North Korea's flights from May this year could not track fired missiles. The short-range missiles, which also included one that could reach Japan, were not discovered, according to the informants, because they flew too low and "irregularly", thus also testing whether the missile defense system could be tricked.

Japan's government is increasingly concerned. Allegedly they are relying on the two new Aegis destroyers to cover lower altitudes and to improve the radar systems. In the dispute with South Korea, the country has ended the secret service data exchange. This apparently worries the Japanese military because South Korea allegedly claims to have successfully discovered the rocket launch.

What exactly North Korea tested with its missile launches is unknown. It is quite possible that the aim was to determine which missiles could be used to undermine the radar and missile defense systems at which altitude. There was also the new short-range cruise missile type KN-23, which can reach Japan with a range of up to 700 km and is supposed to fly irregularly. Many of the missiles fired are said to have flown deeper than 60 km. On September 10, two KN-23 missiles were fired towards the Sea of ​​Japan from a "super-large missile launcher" capable of launching multiple missiles. One can assume that, among other things, these missiles were not discovered.

It is believed that North Korea is secretly working on a submarine from which missiles could be launched, which would further shorten the time interval between launch and impact for Japan and otherwise make North Korea's strategic behavior more unpredictable. Kim Jong-un is said to have visited the shipyard where the submarine is being built in July. (Florian Rötzer)

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