Japan plans to order 30 aircraft, including its first four Kawasaki Heavy Industries P-X maritime patrol aircraft and its final Fuji Heavy Industries/Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter next year, under a new budget request worth more than Y4.8 trillion ($41.4 billion).

Representing a 0.7% increase over Tokyo's military allocation this year, the total includes three aircraft, but no fighters, for the air force, seven for the army and 20 for the navy. The plan includes 15 fewer aircraft than purchased in fiscal year 2007, but a request of Y285 billion for manufacturing and upgrade activities represents a 30% boost.

Air force acquisitions will be limited to single Kawasaki/Boeing CH-47J Chinook transport and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries/Sikorsky UH-60J utility helicopters, plus one Raytheon Hawker U-125A search and rescue aircraft. Plans to acquire an initial seven next-generation F-X fighters have slipped from the next fiscal year, along with a production order for KHI's delayed C-X transport.

An allocation of over Y112 billion - around 40% of the air force's total spend - will be made to modernise 32 Mitsubishi/Boeing F-15 fighters with equipment including Raytheon's APG-63(V)1 radar, a new datalink and an expanded weapons load. However, funds for an integrated electronic warfare system have been pushed back to a second upgrade phase.

The proposed army budget includes Y31.8 billion for aviation projects, including Japan's 13th and last AH-64D, plus two CH-47Js, one UH-60JA, two Kawasaki OH-1 scout helicopters and one Fuji LR-2 liaison and reconnaissance aircraft.

Naval aviation is the main beneficiary of the FY2008 request, with funding more than doubling over the current year. The navy's Y124 billion will cover its initial P-X purchase, plus three KHI/AgustaWestland MCH101 mine countermeasures and transport helicopters, both under two-year deals. The service will also buy one Shinmaywa US-2 search and rescue amphibian, two SH-60K patrol helicopters, four Fuji T-5 trainers, four Beech TC-90 trainers and one TH-X training helicopter.

F To see video of P-X and C-X taxi trials visit flightglobal.com/

Source: Flight International