Japan sells PAC-2/PAC-3 interceptors to US, Moscow warns Tokyo

Moscow issued a warning to Tokyo to expect “the most serious consequences”. This expression was used by the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova. The reason: Tokyo’s approved sale of PAC-2 and PAC-3 interceptors, part of the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, to Washington.

Washington may withdraw its signature on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Such a sale would not have been a problem for Russia in the past, but it looms as one in the current situation. Namely – the war in Ukraine. Experts [Russian, Japanese, and international] suggest that the shortage of interceptors in the US to be delivered to Ukraine is the reason why Washington purchased the license-produced PAC-2/PAC-3 precisely from Japan.

BulgarianMilitary.com reminds us that PAC-2 and PAC-3 are the missiles that are fired from the Patriot anti-aircraft missile system, which are already in service with the Ukrainian army.

Ukraine fired 6% of PAC-3 annual production of in 120 seconds
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

‘Passive China’

According to analysts, Beijing is currently showing a rather passive position regarding a possible war with Taiwan. It is for this reason, according to analysts, that Joe Biden’s advisers have advised him to “withdraw” the necessary amount from Japan by purchase. The interceptors will subsequently be transferred as an aid to Ukraine.

In 2027, the People’s Liberation Army of China will celebrate its 100th anniversary. It is an open secret that Beijing wants the celebrations to be “long over” with the annexation of the small Pacific island to China’s territorial integrity. In the US, however, they believe that the alleged war along the “China-Taiwan-US” axis is “postponing”. Although China is considered the biggest threat to the US at the moment, such an analysis allows for the redistribution of stocks and their concentration at the point of conflict.

Netherlands buys 96 GEM ballistic missiles for its Patriots
Photo credit: Raytheon

It’s not just the interceptors

In the last months of 2023, Japan became quite active in military relations with Great Britain and the United States. We remind you that Japan became part of the GCAP next-generation fighter program, in which Great Britain and Italy participate.

I.e. Japan wanted to participate in the GCAP program and Britain “allowed”. It is not clear under what conditions Tokyo was “allowed” to join this project, but it seems that Japan is becoming more active in the war in Ukraine, despite not directly providing lethal weapons to Japan.

Ukraine fired 6% of PAC-3 annual production of in 120 seconds
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

For example, not only Japanese interceptors can become part of resupplying the Ukrainian army. 155mm artillery ammunition will travel to the UK after a sale is approved by Tokyo. They [artillery ammunition, it has already been officially confirmed] will be sent to Ukraine, again under the scheme “through third countries”.

The US thanks

Rahm Emanuel, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, commended Japan’s substantial efforts towards the “reform and modernization” of their alliance with the U.S. Significant enhancements have been made to their military capacity and expenditure, and Japanese-made Patriot guided missiles have been approved for shipment to the U.S. to replenish dwindling stocks. 

Patriot destroyed missile using target designation provided by F-35
Photo by US Air Force photo/ Airman 1st Class Debbie Lockhart

In a recent conversation with Japan’s Defense Minister, Minoru Kihara, Emanuel acknowledged the numerous steps taken by Japan to fortify their collective military strength as well as elevate their alliance. According to Emanuel, these actions have transitioned the alliance’s “deterrence level to a capital D deterrence.” 

Adding to this, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took a revolutionary step last Friday. They relaxed the postwar prohibition on lethal weapons exports, which is a significant deviation from Japan’s postwar self-defense-only principle. Alongside this, they sanctioned a 16.5% surge in defense spending for next year, coming to a record-setting 7.95 trillion yen [$56 billion]. This budget will primarily enhance missile strike and defense capabilities.

PAC-2/PAC-3 are a problem for Russia

It appears that American Patriot interceptors are more of a problem for Russia than 155mm artillery ammunition. It makes sense, as Russia shows that its artillery ammunition production is in its “renaissance period” and is not worried about such supplies.

However, the PAC-2/PAC-3 can intercept and destroy Russian cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, as well as combat aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS].

There’s a possibility that Patriot missiles might have been transferred to Ukraine via a reliable method. Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, has issued a warning saying if such missiles, originating from Japan, are found within the Ukrainian military arsenal, it will be perceived as a declaration of hostility towards Russia. “This action will have profound implications for Japanese-Russian bilateral relations,” Zakharova commented. 

THAAD successfully fired Patriot's PAC-3 MSE missile using AN/TPY-2
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

“Furnishing Ukraine with defense artillery will only exacerbate its misery”, Zakharova said. She added that this will escalate the count of innocent lives lost. She held Tokyo responsible, stating they would bear equal culpability for such calamitous circumstances.

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