Japan plans development of missile-tracking UAVs

Goal is to deploy drones in 2020.

Japan’s Defense Ministry plans to develop unmanned aerial vehicles that detect ballistic missiles sooner than existing systems, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

Japan relies on data from U.S. forces' early-warning satellites as well as ground radar and Aegis destroyers to detect missiles, but the technology only allows it to pick up on missiles that have reached a certain altitude. Japanese officials are looking to create a new generation of infrared sensor-equipped drones that can track ballistic missiles at lower altitudes, according to the report, which cites unnamed government sources.

The ministry plans to have a design for a prototype ready by the next fiscal year and introduce the UAVs for deployment in fiscal 2020, according to the report