Japan to launch military space force

August 4, 2014
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force's F-15J Eagle aircraft perform a flyover during an inspection parade at the Asaka military base in Tokyo on October 24, 2010

Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019 that would initially be tasked with protecting satellites from dangerous debris orbiting the Earth, a report said.

The move is aimed at strengthening Japan-US cooperation in space, and comes after the countries pledged to boost joint work on monitoring , Kyodo news agency said Sunday.

Japan would provide the US military with information obtained by the force as part of the joint bid to strengthen ties in space, the so-called "fourth battlefield", Kyodo said, citing unnamed sources.

Japan's is looking at creating the new force using personnel from the Air Self-Defence Force, the country's air force, it added.

The unit would acquire radar and telescope facilities, jointly with the science ministry and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to run its observatory operations, Kyodo said.

Graphic on space junk and proposals for managing potentially hazardous pieces of defunct space-hardware

Thousands of pieces of debris—including old satellites as well as pieces of rockets and other space equipment—are orbiting the Earth and threaten to collide with functioning communications and reconnaissance satellites.

© 2014 AFP