The Japanese electrical manufacturing company, Mitsubishi Electric, and the US defence prime, Northrop Grumman, have agreed to collaborate on a networking solution for Japan’s air and missile defence systems.

In a statement from 16 January 2024, Rebecca Torzone, vice president and general manager of combat systems and mission readiness at Northrop Grumman, explained the Japanese Government’s requirement:

“The Japanese Ministry of Defence is accelerating integrated air and missile defence by prioritising investments in operationally resilient systems and exploring the advantages of networking systems to facilitate fire control.”

This network-centric concept involves controlling and montoring the use of connected sensors and systems within a greater, integrated platform. This integration concept falls under the umbrella term, Internet of Things (IoT).

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By GlobalData

GlobalData intelligence estimates global enterprise IoT market revenues will reach $1.2trn by 2027. Furthermore, the IoT market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.1% between 2022 and 2027.

A fruitful US-Japanese partnership

Northrop Grumman has proven its capacity to integrate weapon systems in this way having provided the Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS) developed for and is currently fielded by the US Army.

This IoT platform connects sensors and effectors that were never designed to work together – regardless of source, service or domain – into one command and control (C2) platform, allowing users to see and act on data across the battlefield.

Northrop Grumman’s integration experience places it as a coveted partner in this area of missile defence as the industrial collaboration with Mitsubishi will allow the transfer of critical technologies.

This isn’t the first time that US technical and technological knowledge has been transferred.

Due to longstanding relations with the US, Japan is one of the only nations permitted to purchase and operate domestic variants of the American Aegis ballistic missile defence system, toward which the US Defense Department committed additional integration services worth $271m on 16 January.