April 4, 2012: For the first time ever Japan will deploy warplanes under the "self-defense" provision of their pacifist constitution. Adopted, under pressure from the United States, the Japanese Article 95 (of the Self-Defense Forces Law) allows Japanese military forces to deploy warships and warplanes to defend each other. And that is what Japan will do this month as the Japanese Navy sends Aegis equipped warships out to possibly shoot down North Korea's planned "satellite launch" (which is seen as a violation of a recent North Korea agreement to halt its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program). Japanese F-15s will fly out to protect the Japanese Aegis destroyers. These ships carry missiles capable of intercepting ballistic missiles, or low orbit satellites. The Aegis radar system can locate and track these targets.
Japanese is deploying three Aegis equipped destroyers for this mission, two in the East China Sea (south of South Korea) and one in Sea of Japan (off the west coast of Japan). The F-15s are prepared to fire warning shots, or shoot down, aircraft trying to interfere with the Japanese destroyers.
To help with this effort the United States is towing its SBX (Sea Based X Band radar) to the area. SBX is a large long range radar built on a floating platform that can be towed to wherever it is needed. The X-Band radar can see over the horizon and gives anti-missile systems that maximum warning time that a target is on the way.