The United States and Japan are working towards developing a new radar system for Aegis-equipped US Navy ships, as “part of efforts to improve defense capabilities,” Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on March 17.

The plan is to be able to counter new weapons, including the hypersonic missiles being developed by China and Russia.

Japan also faces nuclear and missile threats from North Korea and is hoping to strengthen its security alliance with the United States through the joint development program.

But Kyodo also quoted observers as saying that “the project could cause concerns about the country being seen as encouraging an arms race between major powers.”

The new radar system will provide 360-degree surveillance on the warships and the AN/SPY-6 is scheduled to be delivered in 2020. The AN/SPQ-9B system, which is now in use, is capable of detecting low-flying threats.

The AN/SPY-6 is an upgraded radar system for the detection of high-altitude threats. When an order was placed for five AN/SPQ-9B units, the US Navy paid US$21.5 million. The new system is expected to be even more expensive, Kyodo reported.