Thursday, 15 January 2015

Tokyo to Move On with Ambitious Defence Acquisition Plans

Money is Expected to go Towards Patrol Aircraft and Ships

PRIME Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has approved Japan’s largest ever defence budget of 4.98 trillion yen (US$42Bn; £28Bn). Ambitious procurement programmes to be funded by the budget increase will include 20 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) to deal with the “changing situation” around Japan, as stated by new Defence Minister Gen Nakatani. The procurement plans also list: five tilt-rotor aircraft (which have both airplane and helicopter functionalities); six stealth fighters; 30 amphibious vehicles; and an Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform; the latter can detect ships and other aircraft from a long distance.
The Defence Ministry announced in November 2014 it has selected the Bell Boeing MV-22 OSPREY tilt-rotor aircraft. According to the five-year midterm National Defence Programme Guidelines unveiled in July 2014, as many as 17 tilt-rotor aircraft will be procured by fiscal 2018.

Some 15 countries are interested in buying or conducting training exercises with the MV-22 OSPREY tilt-rotor, including Japan. Two US Marine Corps aircraft are pictured here conducting exercises with the "Osumi" class landing ship JS "Shimokita" (LST 4002).
(Photo: US Navy)
Japan's cabinet has approved the record 4.98 trillion yen budget for defence spending amid a long-running maritime dispute with Beijing over some East China Sea islands - known as the Senkaku/Daioyu islands - that are claimed by both Japan and China. When looking at the unique geography of the region, the disputed islands are located only 16nm (30km) from the Japanese island of Yonaguni, which overlaps with Japan’s own unilaterally imposed Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ), but also covers Ieodo, a submerged rock that is the source of a territorial dispute between China and South Korea. According to Defence Minister Nakatani, the situation around Japan is changing. "The level of defence spending reflects the amount necessary to protect Japan's air, sea and land, and Guard the lives and property of our citizens", he said. Naval ships of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) were appearing more frequently near Japan's waters and Chinese fighter jets were being flown "abnormally close" to Japanese aircraft. The Defence Minister prompted criticism from Beijing, which said its maritime activities were "completely legitimate". Beijing itself has also seen a sharp increase in its official defence budget, which is more than two and half times larger than Japan's.
By Stefan Nitschke

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