Japan suspends Aegis Ashore deployment
Japan’s defence minister Taro Kono has announced that the northeast Asian country was suspending the deployment of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defence system, citing cost and technical issues.
The technical issues included the failure of software tweaks of the SM-3 Block IIA interceptors to ensure that their rocket boosters will separate and fall into designated drop zones and avoid landing on nearby populated areas, with Kono suggesting that hardware modifications are needed, further adding to development costs.
The decision to suspend the deployment of the two Aegis Ashore systems, each of which comprise a long-range radar and vertical launch interceptors to counter incoming ballistic missiles, was a surprise despite the controversy surrounding the program in recent years.
These included vociferous opposition from local governments and residents of the two proposed deployment sites, in the north and south of Japan’s main island of Honshu, over radiation and other safety concerns.
The controversy was exacerbated by revelations that Japan’s defence ministry had used erroneous data to assess the suitability of one of the sites.
China-India border standoff turns deadly
The high-altitude stand-off between the Chinese and India has turned deadly, when clashes resulted in the deaths of about 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese casualties
According to Indian reports, the clashes which took place on June 15 started when Indian forces detected that soldiers from China’s PLA set up tents and other positions beyond an agreed-upon disengagement line near the line of control between both countries, and a patrol was formed to dismantle them.
The dead on the Indian side included a Colonel who led the initial patrol to dismantle the PLA tents, when they were attacked by Chinese troops at an elevated ridgeline, with several of the deaths resulting from falls from the ridgeline and/or exposure to the low temperatures.
Both sides fought using clubs, rocks, and other handheld weapons, due to an existing agreement for soldiers on both sides to not carry firearms in the border area.
China has been a lot less forthcoming with its version of events beyond noting that it had suffered casualties, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accusing Indian troops of sparking the clashes by violating agreed-upon protocols and crossing into China’s territory.
India has accused China of upending the status-quo at their disputed border near the Galwan Valley near Ladakh by moving PLA troops across the line of control and setting up outposts and digging trenches, with the BBC reporting that stand-offs between both forces were taking place in at least three locations.
China has in turn accused India of starting off the current tensions when it built a road hundreds of kilometres long connecting the area with an airbase it reactivated in 2008.