US Looks To Japan To Backfill Supply Of Advanced Air Defense System For Ukraine

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The U.S. may soon be able to import missiles for the Patriot air defense system from Japan to backfill its stock of missiles sent to help Ukraine defend its skies from Russian airstrikes, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Japan is expected to officially modify its export regulations as soon as Friday, allowing for the transfer of multiple dozen missiles to the U.S., the Post reported, citing U.S. officials speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss talks between the Washington and Tokyo. Supplies of the advanced ammunition from a key ally in the Pacific could permit the Biden administration additional options to send more Patriot launchers to Ukraine as global crises strain U.S. stockpiles.

The rule change will not explicitly mention the Patriot missiles, the officials told the Post. However, it comes in direct response to President Joe Biden’s discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at Camp David in August and at a summit in San Fransisco in November. (RELATED: Ukrainian Military Is Planning Ways To Add Half A Million Troops, Zelenskyy Says)

A final decision on the number of missiles to be transferred and subsequent timeline will come “relatively soon,” an official told the Post. The transfer will include several dozen of the PAC-2 and PAC-3 interceptors, ultimately destined to backfill the U.S. Army’s stocks.

Japan manufactures the missiles for the Patriot system under a license from U.S. weapons manufacturer RTX, formerly Raytheon, according to the Post. PAC-2 missiles can destroy incoming ballistic missiles by exploding close by, while the more advanced PAC-3 directly strike missiles and aircraft and deliver a more powerful payload.

Japan has supported Ukraine, arguing that should it fall to a larger aggressor, China may feel emboldened to move on Taiwan and threaten the security of other countries in the Pacific, according to the Post. In January, Kishida said “Ukraine may be the East Asia of tomorrow.”

Demand for the advanced air defense system remains high.

The Pentagon has deployed additional Patriot batteries to the Middle East to defend U.S. troops against attacks by Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, which still occur at a high frequency.

Ukraine has pleaded for stronger air defenses as the grueling war nears the two-year mark.

In a visit to Washington earlier in December, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine has only a “handful” of munitions remaining to protect Kyiv and other major cities, Politico reported.

“This winter is different, with losses and challenges. But we are getting stronger and more powerful. I had a serious working trip to the U.S. Several additional Patriot systems will be in Ukraine to protect our country in the winter. This is a very important result,” Zelenskyy said at a press conference Tuesday.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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