Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has accepted a Japanese government contract to research cutting edge technology to monitor missiles developed by China and North Korea via satellite. Countries near Japan, including China and Russia, have been developing hypersonic military gliders, which can be maneuvered at high speed with irregular flight trajectories. North Korea has also been working on missiles with irregular trajectories, which pose a great threat. The Japan Ministry of Defense (Bōei-shō) set aside 88 million yen (about $848,320) for research and investigation into new technology to detect and monitor missiles with satellites in its budget for fiscal 2020.
Mitsubishi Electric has been entrusted with research regarding the implementation of “limb observation,” a type of method that enables missiles to be detected by stationing numerous satellites at the same altitude to survey missiles horizontally. According to the Defense Ministry, several firms participated in the competitive bidding, and Mitsubishi Electric, which presented the lowest bid, concluded the contract on Jan. 14. The ministry has not disclosed the amount of research costs it had envisioned, but it is believed to top several million yen (tens of thousands of dollars) at a conservative estimate.
As the bidding price is less than 1/100,000th of the estimated research cost, the Defense Ministry has reportedly consulted with a lawyer to check if there are any problems with the contract, and has also confirmed with the electronics maker that they are capable of performing the research. No issues were found with either party. As for the reason for the extremely low bid, an individual close to the matter pointed out. The Japan Ministry of Defense may have wanted to accept the offer by any means, considering the great potential of surveillance via satellites in addition to research on limb observation.