Lockheed Martin will equip US, Japanese and South Korean destroyers with Aegis ballistic missile defense systems, under a $490m contract.

Two Atago-class destroyers in Japan and three KDX-III Sejong the Great Class destroyers in South Korea, which include  RoK Sejong the Great, RoK Yulgok Yi I and RoK Seoae Ryu Sungryong, will receive Aegis Baseline 9 that is fitted with the SPY-1 radar.

When paired with the MK 41 Vertical Launching System, Aegis Baseline is capable of delivering missiles for every mission and threat environment in naval warfare.

"We will continue the Lockheed Martin tradition of providing Aegis on-time and on-budget."

Already, four of Japan’s Kongo-class destroyers and two Atago-class destroyers carry the Aegis system.

Aegis provides the destroyers with advanced sea, air and undersea threat detection capabilities, Lockheed said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin Aegis US Navy programmes director Jim Sheridan said: “Lockheed Martin has a proud record of working hand-in-hand with the US Navy, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces and the Republic of Korea Navy.

“We will continue the Lockheed Martin tradition of providing Aegis on-time and on-budget so these destroyers are prepared to meet the evolving demands of securing the US homeland and its allies.”

The production hardware contract was awarded after Aegis destroyers from the three nations shared data while detecting and tracking a simulated missile threat, during a successful joint-missile defense exercise in June.

The Aegis Combat System is currently used globally by six navies.

In addition to the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, Aegis is the maritime weapon system of choice for Australia, Norway and Spain.

Image: Aegis ships USS John Paul Jones, USS Shoup, Japan’s Chokai, the Republic of Korea’s Sejung The Great and Gang Gam Chan steam in formation during exercise Pacific Dragon 2016 in June. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Holly L Herline/Released.