The Japanese Ministry of Defense said on Monday it selected  Lockheed Martin [LMT] to provide its Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) for the country’s two future Aegis Ashore missile defense sites.

The Japanese government disclosed its plans to boost missile defense, including adding two Aegis Ashore sites, last August (Defense Daily, Aug. 18, 2017). The ministry was evaluating Lockheed Martin’s LRDR and Raytheon’s [RTN] SPY-6 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) in two stages focusing on basic performance, backward support, expenses, and delivery date.

The Aegis Ashore site at Deveselu Air Base, Romania. It was the final component of Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense program. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)
The Aegis Ashore site at Deveselu Air Base, Romania. It was the final component of Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense program. (Photo: Missile Defense Agency)

Aegis Ashore is a land-based variant of the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Weapons System that targets medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. The first of two planned European sites was built at Deveselu, Romania. The European systems use components of Aegis ships like a deckhouse, AN/SPY-1 radar, Mark 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS), and Raytheon [RTN] Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB interceptors. The sites plan to later upgrade to SM-3 Block IIA interceptors.

According to a ministry document announcing the selection, basic performance involves the performance of detecting ballistic missiles and operability of radar; backward support covers reliability and maintainability of components and evaluates the supply support system; and expenses covered not just purchasing but also lifecycle cost, technical support, education, and training for the equipment.

The ministry said both companies passed the first stage, but Lockheed Martin’s LRDR ultimately scored higher in the second stage and was ranked as cheaper to procure. It said each of the Aegis LRDR radar systems is expected to cost about $1.2 billion.

The LRDR is also called the Solid State Radar (SSR) and is a scalable Gallium Nitride (GaN)-based radar. It completed a critical design review in 2017 and is planned to be operational in Alaska in 2020 for use in the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. The SPY-6 is being developed to upgrade the Navy’s Aegis destroyers and will be a main feature of the Arleigh Burke-class Flight III ships.

According to local media report, these Aegis Ashore sites are expected to be operational by 2023.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman said the company “stands ready to support the Japan Ministry of Defense and the United States in delivering our solid state radar solution, which will greatly increase the operational performance, efficiency and reliability of the two Aegis Ashore Japan installations. For the past 25 years Lockheed Martin has partnered with Japan on Aegis to fulfill their missile defense mission, and we look forward to continuing to support the nation’s security with Aegis Ashore.”

During a press conference last week, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said he could not provide the total price for a single Aegis Ashore site including lifecycle costs because they can vary with specific deployment site, exact composition (including radar), and other details.

Onodera said that “the MoD plans to disclose an accurate estimate of the costs once it has selected the radar,” and the time “the MoD still does not know whether the system will cost more.” However, he noted the ministry will submit a budget request once it selected the radar and determined the system performance and deployment format.

However, Onodera explained the total cost of the Aegis Weapon System on a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces’ (MSDF) ship, including SM-3 Block IA and IB intercreptors, is almost $900 million as of four years ago.