Japan details 1998 aircraft-procurement plans

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Andrew Mollet/TOKYO

The Japan Defence Agency (JDA) has submitted its aircraft-procurement request for fiscal year 1998 to the finance ministry's budgetary appropriations committee before it is incorporated in the Government's April 1998 budget.

The JDA request, which is relatively modest compared with previous years, calls for 52 new fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft for the three Japan self-defence forces, compared with the 56 approved in FY1997. The final number to be funded is subject to Government and parliamentary review and will almost certainly be further trimmed.

The Japan Air Self-Defence Force's (JASDF) request for FY1998 totals 27 aircraft - a further nine Mitsubishi F-2A/B support fighters, ten Kawasaki T-4 trainers, one Gulfstream U-4 transport, three search-and-rescue Raytheon Hawker U-125As and one Beechjet T-400, and three Sikorsky/Mitsubishi UH-60J helicopters.

A further 15 aircraft are being sought by the Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF), consisting of 14 helicopters (five UH-60JAs, four Bell/Fuji UH-1Js, three Kawasaki OH-1s, one Bell/Fuji AH-1S and one Boeing/Kawasaki CH-47JA) and a Fuji LR-2. The Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) is asking for eight more Sikorsky/Mitsubishi SH-60J patrol helicopters and two UH-60Js and five Fuji T-5 fixed-wing trainers.

The request is part of the JDA's 1996-2000 Mid-Term Defence Build-up Plan, which includes the acquisition of a total of four AH-1S anti-tank helicopters and 12 CH-47JA transport helicopters for the JGSDF, 37 SH-60Js for the JMSDF and four Boeing F-15DJ fighters, 47 Mitsubishi F-2s, six CH-47Js and 59 T-4 trainers for the JASDF.