OMAHA, Neb. — The head of U.S. Strategic command here dismissed Russian worries about two U.S.-designed missile defense systems headed to Japan as “political messaging,” insisting that the weapon is only for defense.
“I find it pretty interesting, that Russia would be concerned about Aegis Ashore in Japan,” Gen. John Hyten told reporters here during the U.S. Strategic Command Deterrence Symposium. “I don’t care who comes and looks at Aegis Ashore. It’s a missile defense system. You look in any of those tubes, you’re going to find missile defense weapons. Come on over and take a look. I really don’t care.”
Aegis Ashore is a land-based variant of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Weapons System that targets medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Japan decided to add a pair of the sites in August 2017 and recently selected Lockheed Martin [LMT] to provide Long Range Discrimination Radar for the sites.
The Russian foreign ministry last year declared the Japanese missile-defense boost was disproportionate to the threat in the region, and said Japan’s decision could undermine stability in the Pacific.
Hyten does not buy that.
“To me, it’s just political messaging which is consistent with what Russia has been doing for the last little while,” Hyten told reporters here. “I think it’s a very smart move on the behalf of the Japanese government to improve their defensive systems against the North Korean threat. It’s got nothing to do with Russia. Nothing to do with Russia.”