Japan’s parliament has approved a Y4.98 trillion ($42 billion) defence budget for FY2015, with a strong emphasis on new airpower capabilities.
The budget, posted on the web site of Japan’s defence ministry, is 2.8% higher than in FY2014, and sets a new record for Japanese defence spending.
It contains funding for several major aircraft programmes, notably 20 Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft.
The budget will also see the radar and infrared sensors carried by the nation’s Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion aircraft upgraded, as well as service life extensions for three P-3Cs.
It also includes funding for five Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey aircraft, which will be part of a new amphibious capability modelled on the US Marine Corps.
Tokyo continues to place a premium on high-end intelligence surveillance & reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.
The budget includes improvements on one Boeing E-767 airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft, as well as the acquisition of one Northrop Grumman E-2D.
There is also funding toward Tokyo’s eventual procurement of the Northrop Grumman MQ-4 Global Hawk, but it does not specify a specific variant or the number of aircraft it plans to obtain.
Tokyo’s fighter fleet also gets a boost, with funding for six Lockheed Martin F-35As, the modernisation of eight F-15s, and improvements to nine Mitsubishi F-2 fighters.
In addition, Tokyo will obtain three Mitsubishi H-6 helicopters – the locally produced version of the Sikorsky UH-60. Two examples will be configured as SH-60K anti-submarine/anti-surface warfare helicopters, while the third will be a UH-60J rescue helicopter.
Tokyo will also extend the service life of two SH-60Js.
To further bolster its rotary wing capabilities, Tokyo is providing funds to develop an indigenous ASW helicopter optimised for patrolling Japan’s littoral environment for submarines.
Japanese defence minister Gen Nakatni reportedly said the spending reflects the “changing situation” in the region.
“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.
In recent years Tokyo has become increasingly alarmed at Chinese aerial incursions and patrols over the East China Sea. Tokyo and Beijing also have competing territorial claims, which have raised concerns about the potential for armed conflict.