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Japanese MoD procurement budget boosted despite cuts

Ministry able to purchase more aircraft, bucking trend as defence spending declines

The Japanese government has pushed through a slight reduction in defence spending for fiscal year 2007, and has cut five platforms from the newly rebranded defence ministry's earlier request to acquire 50 aircraft (Flight International, 12-18 September 2006).

The defence ministry will receive an allocation of ¥4.8 trillion ($40.4 billion) this year, marking a decrease of 0.8% against FY06. However, its procurement budget of ¥220 billion represents a significant increase of 24% over last year, when the then-Japan Defence Agency was able to purchase just 25 aircraft. A total of 45 will be bought this year: 20 for the army, 13 for the navy and 12 for the air force.

The air force's planned final batch of 10 Mitsubishi/Lockheed Martin F-2 fighters has been reduced to eight, but the service will get its requested two Mitsubishi/Sikorsky UH-60J utility helicopters, one Kawasaki/Boeing CH-47J transport helicopter and one Raytheon Hawker U-125A search-and-rescue aircraft.

The navy's entire equipment request was approved, bar one of its planned two Shinmaywa US-2 amphibians. It will also receive five Mitsubishi/Sikorsky SH-60K patrol helicopters, four Fuji T-5 trainers, two Beech TC-90 trainers and one TH-X training helicopter, which is yet to be selected.

Army helicopter acquisitions will include 16 Fuji/Bell UH-1J utilities, two Kawasaki OH-1 scouts, single CH-47JA and UH-60JA airframes and one Fuji/Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter. Requests for an additional UH-60JA and one fixed-wing Fuji LR-2 liaison and reconnaissance aircraft were rejected.

Japan will increase ballistic missile defence spending to ¥183 billion in FY07, and intends to have four Raytheon/Lockheed Patriot PAC-3 surface-to-air missile systems operational around Tokyo by year-end.