The United States and Japan are planning to complete the development of a new generation sea-based missile by the end of 2016 fiscal year, a top official of Japan’s new defense acquisition agency said Friday. The country is also said to be keen on cooperating with its allies and private enterprise to develop advanced defense technology in the face of increased security threats.

“Japan also is collaborating heavily with the U.S. to develop defense kit, including the next-generation, sea-launched SM-3 Block IIA missile. Development is to conclude by the end of fiscal 2016, making it deployable,” Hideaki Watanabe, the commissioner of Japan's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), told Nikkei Asian Review in an interview.

The U.S. and Japan reportedly began working on the Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IIA missiles in 2006. The first test of the missile took place earlier this year in California, while the deployment of these missiles is scheduled for 2018, Sputnik News reported.

Watanabe’s statement came nearly two months after the U.S. approved a $1.5 billion sale of two Lockheed Martin Corp. Aegis combat systems and new anti-submarine warfare equipment to Japan. The weapons deal was aimed to fortify Japan’s capabilities to defend against a ballistic missile attack, the Diplomat reported.

“The addition of two (2) new AEGIS DDGs will fulfill Japan’s mission goal of acquiring eight (8) ballistic missile defense capable ships and will further enhance interoperability with the U.S. Navy, build upon a longstanding cooperative effort with the United States, and provide enhanced capability with a valued partner in a geographic region of critical importance to Japan and the U.S. Government,” the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

In June, the U.S. and Japan conducted a live-fire test of a jointly developed new ballistic missile interceptor at a U.S. Navy sea range.