Modification of Izumo class (6.7 billion yen: $60 million)
As part of this modification, the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (JAPLS) will be installed to enable the operation of the F-35B on the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer Izumo. Developed by the U.S. Navy and Raytheon, JPALS is a system that uses a combination of GPS and UHF data links to accurately guide aircraft. The U.S. Navy approved its initial operational capability (IOC) on May 21, 2021, and it has also been installed on the British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth and the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour.
In addition, according to Kosuke Takahashi, the Tokyo correspondent of Jane’s Weekly Defense, the 6.7 billion yen for the modification of the Izumo class includes 1.2 billion yen ($10.8 million) for technical assistance from the U.S. military for the modification of the Izumo class and 1.3 billion yen ($11.7 million) for the modification of the air traffic control room of the Kaga, Izumo‘ sister ship.
Procurement of four F-35Bs (52.1 billion yen: $470 million)
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has budgeted for the purchase of eight F-35Bs, six in FY2020 and two in FY2021. And the budget request for FY2022 calls for the purchase of four F-35Bs.
The JASDF plans to induct a total of 42 F-35Bs, with the first F-35Bs scheduled to be deployed in FY2024 at JASDF’s Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture in the Kyushu region of southern Japan.
Experimental operation of UAV for JMSDF (5 billion yen: $45.1 million)
The JMSDF is considering having UAVs take over some of the roles of the anti-submarine patrol aircraft it currently operates, such as the P-3C and P-1, in preparation for a shortage of personnel due to a declining population in the future, and this budget request is thought to be based on that.
The specific model of the UAV has not been revealed, but the General Atomics’ MQ-9B SeaGuardian and Northrop Grumman’s Firebird seem like the most likely candidates. As for the MQ-9B, the data and feedback from the demonstration by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) in November 2020 was shared with the JMSDF. It is believed that the JMSDF is strongly aware of its usefulness and capabilities.
Performance test of shipboard UAV for JMSDF (600 million yen: $5.42 million)
The JMSDF currently operates manned aircraft such as the SH-60J/K and MCH-101 as shipboard aircraft, but in addition to these, they are considering introducing UAVs that can be operated from ships.
These UAVs will not completely replace manned helicopters, but rather will complement their capabilities. This is because the JMSDF cannot afford to lose its manned helicopters, which are capable of anti-submarine warfare and the transport of supplies and personnel. Therefore, UAVs are expected to supplement helicopter capabilities or perform missions that are difficult for helicopters to carry out, such as offshore surveillance, target search, and observation support for ground attacks by destroyers in preparation for island defense.
Thus, it is likely that a type of UAV that can operate alongside helicopters on destroyers will be tested. For example, Airbus’ VSR700, Schiebel’s CAMCOPTER S-100, Saab’s Skeldar V-200, Insitu’s ScanEagle, etc. can be considered.
Research on Maritime Surveillance Module for Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) (4.1 billion yen: $37 million)
The MOD is conducting research on UUVs that can operate for long periods of time in order to respond to the buildup of the Chinese Navy. By changing the modules it is equipped with, this UUV aims to be able to detect and monitor enemy submarines and surface vessels, as well as deploy surveillance equipment and mines in the water.
The budget request is for the Maritime Surveillance Module, which consists of a mast that houses optical sensors and Electronic Warfare (EW) Support equipment. It also aims to use artificial intelligence (AI) to process the information gathered by these sensors and identify targets. Research work on this will be done from FY2022 to FY2025.
The MOD has positioned this UUV as a game changer and aims to develop it as early as possible. To this end, in September 2021, the MOD opened a facility in Iwakuni City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, to conduct experiments on this UUV.
Basic design work for offshore patrol vessel (400 million yen: $3.61 million)
The JMSDF plans to develop four offshore patrol vessels (OPV) by FY2023 and 12 by FY2028, which are specialized for surveillance and monitoring. This is a move to monitor Chinese naval vessels, which have been increasingly active in recent years, and it is hoped that this will free JMSDF destroyers and other vessels from this role. Therefore, while the OPV will be equipped with a variety of surveillance equipment, their armament will be limited. In addition, these OPVs will be operated by a reduced crew estimated to be around 30 sailors, making manpower saving one of the main focus of the design. We previously reported on this next generation OPV in this article.
Introducing transport ships for JGSDF (10.2 billion yen: $92.2 million)
The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) is currently strengthening its capabilities in the Southwest Islands, including Okinawa, and will introduce two transport ships to deploy troops and transport ammunition, supplies, and vehicles to such islands.
There are two types of ships: a medium-sized ship with a loading capacity of 1,700 tons and a smaller ship with a loading capacity of 350 tons. The deployment is expected to start around 2024, and the operation will be carried out by a joint force consisting of JGSDF and JMSDF personnel. In February 2021, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi announced that the JSDF would eventually introduce four transport ships (one medium-sized and three small ones).
Development of a ship and aircraft-launched version of the Type 12 SSM with improved performance (37.9 billion yen: $342 million)
The MOD is currently in the process of retrofitting the Type 12 SSM to significantly extend its range from 200km to 900km and to reduce the radar cross section (RCS) to improve its stealth performance. Also, according to the MOD document mentioned earlier, the improved Type 12 SSM will be able to attack not only enemy surface ships but also ground targets. In addition, the missiles will be updated with data about their targets via satellite communications during their flight, which will improve the accuracy of their attacks.
Modification of this Type 12 SSM began in FY2021, but this is a ground-launched version, and the current budget request includes funding for the development of versions that will be launched from JMSDF destroyers and JASDF F-2 fighters. The development of the ground-launched version will be completed by FY2026, the ship-launched version by FY2027, and the air-launched version by FY2029.
Procurement of SM-6 for JMSDF’s Maya class destroyers (20.7 billion yen: $187 million)
The JMSDF will procure SM-6 Block 1 to deal with anti-ship missiles and cruise missiles. The SM-6 will be installed on JMSDF’s newest destroyer, the Maya class. The Maya class is equipped with a CEC, a real-time data link that can be used for fire control, and can join the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA), which allows the SM-6 to intercept targets not detected by the ship’s radar, in cooperation with E-2D early warning aircraft.
Research on railguns (8.5 billion yen: $76.8 million)
In response to the growing threat posed by hypersonic weapons, the MOD is developing a railgun that can eject rounds at high speed and can fire continuously. According to the MOD’s description, the railgun is designed to be operated in two ways: on board a JMSDF destroyers to intercept missiles, and on board a truck as a coastal gun to attack enemy naval vessels.
The MOD plans to conduct research on this railgun from FY2022 to FY2027, and then test it until FY2029. The research is also being considered for collaboration with other countries for speed and cost reasons.
Modification of SPY-7 for maritime deployment (5.8 billion yen: $52.4 million)
The SPY-7 radar, which will be installed on the Aegis system-equipped ships scheduled to be operated by JMSDF, will be modified. The modification is expected to include measures to prevent salt damage to the cover over the radar surface and measures to deal with shaking and vibrations induces by the waves and sea movement.
Originally, the SPY-7 was to be equipped with the Aegis Ashore, a ground-based BMD system, but in 2020 the Japanese government withdrew this deployment plan and decided to build an Aegis system-equipped ship as an alternative. As a result, it became necessary to retrofit them for such maritime deployment.