The US State Department has approved the Government of Japan’s request to purchase up to 73 SM-3 Block IIA missiles in a deal valued at around $3.295bn.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has stated that it has notified Congress of the potential foreign military sale.

Subject to Congress approval, Japan will receive MK 29 canisters with packing, handling, storage, and transportation (PHS&T) kits, as well as special assignment airlift mission (SAAM) flights.

Additionally, the possible sale will include technical assistance, engineering and logistical support services.

DSCA said: “This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the US by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region.

“It is vital to US national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defence capability.”

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The procurement of SM-3 Block IIA missiles will enhance Japan’s ballistic missile defence capability to safeguard its homeland.

Raytheon Missile Systems will serve as the primary contractor for the SM-3 Block IIA all up rounds, while BAE Systems will supply the MK 29 canisters and PHS&T kits.

As part of the implementation of the sale, US officials will make trips to Japan to perform technical reviews, support, and oversight for a period of five years.

In April this year, the State Department cleared a possible $1.15bn sale of up to 56 SM-3 Block IB missiles to Japan.

The US also approved the sale of four SM-3 Block IIA missiles in January last year.

The SM-3 Block IIA interceptor is developed under a joint effort between Raytheon and Japan for protection against ballistic missile threats. The interceptor consists of larger rocket motors and a larger kinetic warhead.

In a test performed in October last year by the US Navy, the Block IIA interceptor completed an intercept test, successfully engaging a medium-range ballistic missile target.