How the US and Japan are practicing taking down North Korean missiles

The United States Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force are teaming up for some practice. The targets: North Korean ballistic missiles.

According to a release by the United States Navy, Resilient Shield 2018 started on Feb. 16 and will continue until the 23rd of the month. The exercise will involve two Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruisers, USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), three Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS Benfold (DDG 65), and USS Stethem (DDG 63), the Kongo-class guided missile destroyer JS Kongo (DDG 173), and the Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116).

USN and Japan practice BMD

A RIM-161 SM-3 Block 1B interceptor is launched from the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70), a sister ship of the two cruisers taking part in Resilient Shield 2018. (Department of Defense photo)

That is a potent force – six of these vessels are equipped with the Aegis system, centered around the AN/SPY-1 radar, and all six of those are capable of using the RIM-161 Standard SM-3 surface-to-air missile. All seven ships have the Mk 41 vertical-launch system, which can carry that missile. According to, this missile has a range of over 270 nautical miles and can travel at 6,000 miles per hour, or just under Mach 8. In a number of tests, the SM-3, depending on the version, has proven very capable of taking out inbound ballistic targets.

USN and Japan practice BMD

U.S. Forces Korea continued its progress in fulfilling the Republic of Korea – U.S. Alliance decision to install a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on the Korean Peninsula as the first elements of the THAAD system arrived in the ROK. (DOD photo)

The SM-3 is not the only system deployed in the region to counter North Korean ballistic missiles. The United States, Japan, and South Korea all use the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile, which was initially designed to provide area air defense against enemy aircraft, but which proved capable of taking out ballistic missiles in Operation Desert Storm. The United States also deployed the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which has a range of over 125 miles and can go more than eight times the speed of sound, according to