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22 August 2016

Japan Seeks Record Defence Budget Increase, New Equipment

Reflecting concerns over Chinese and North Korean military developments as well as increasing tensions in the East China Sea, Japan’s defence ministry has requested Y5.16 trillion (U$ 51.7 billion) in its initial budget submissions for FY2017. The largest budget request in recorded history, the submission represents 2.3% growth over FY2016 and is the fifth consecutive annual increase.

Y14.7 billion has been allocated to the procurement of the Raytheon Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block 2A, a co-development between the Japanese and US governments which will enhanced defence together with the standard AEGIS-equipped vessels of both nations’ navies. Production of the new missiles is scheduled to commence in 2017.

An additional Y105.6 billion is allocated to upgrading the PATRIOT Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missile defence system, roughly doubling the system coverage to 30 kilometres.

Funds are being requested for development of a new surface to surface anti-ship missile with a 300km range and an initial operating capability envisaged for 2023-2024.

In a technology strategy that seeks to engage the private sector in areas such as weapons systems, communications, and advanced lasers, Japan also intends to develop an indigenous unmanned surveillance aircraft within the next decade and an unmanned combat aerial system (UCAS) with a further decade, according to sources close to the budget submissions.

Y76 billion is being requested for development of a new submarine with advanced detection capabilities to counter the growing Chinese naval threat and a further Y74.6 billion will be used to strengthen coast guard units in Okinawa and Kagoshima Prefectures – specifically on the islands of Miyakojima and Amami Oshima respectively – in response to increasing Chinese presence in the East China Sea.

Sources also indicate that budget requests are being made for procurement of an upgraded version of the Lockheed Martin F-35 LIGHTNING II.

For more on Japan's new defence posture, please see MILITARY TECHNOLOGY 10/2016, out soon, with a large Sportlight on Japan.