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12:27 PM, August 23, 2017
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Japan Seeks $48.1 Billion Defense Budget for fiscal 2018
Japan Missile Drills (Image for representation only)

Japanese Defense Ministry plans to seek a budget of 5.26 trillion yen ($48.1 billion) for fiscal 2018 for strengthening its ballistic missile defence capabilities.

Apart from funds for introducing a land-based Aegis system, the ministry plans to allocate 47.2 billion yen (US$431.5 million) to buy a new kind of interceptor missile to load it on Japanese destroyers, The Mainichi reported Wednesday.

The fiscal 2018 budget request would mark a 2.5 percent rise from the initial budget for the current year through March. Japan's defense budget which is being raised from fiscal 2013, has reached 5 trillion yen in the fiscal 2017 budget for a second-straight year.

The Defense Ministry will leave open the actual money it is expecting for designing the Aegis Ashore program owing to the fact that it has to consult with the US that owns the technology. However, the plans are to finalize the costs by the end of the year when the government will draw up the fiscal 2018 budget plan.

Under Japan's current multi-tier ballistic missile defense system, the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors are tasked with stopping missiles in the outer atmosphere.

If they fail, the Air Self-Defense Force's Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided interceptors are the next line of defense against missile attack.

The new type of interceptor missile the ministry wants to acquire with the 47 billion yen budget is the SM-3 Block 2A. Further the missile also plans to spend 20.5 billion yen to purchase an improved version of PAC-3 missiles known as PAC-3 MSE.

About 10.7 billion yen is eyed to upgrade Japan's air defense radar network, which is expected to help the country prepare for missiles launched on a highly "lofted" trajectory that are more difficult to intercept than those fired on a normal trajectory.

The ministry also plans to request 19.6 billion yen to develop a prototype new radar system to enhance missile detection. Further, the ministry will seek 55.2 billion yen to install facilities to be used for Self-Defense Forces members on guard duty to defend the islands in the country's southwest amid China's growing maritime assertiveness.

The ministry also wants to acquire more aircraft, hoping to buy six F-35 stealth fighter jets for 88.1 billion yen and four Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft for 45.7 billion yen.

The ministry is heading with creating a new "space unit" within the country's self defense force for defending satellites, used by Japan and the United States, from space debris spreading across the satellite's orbits, such as satellites no longer in use and rocket fragments.

About 4 billion yen is expected to be earmarked for designing an observation system to be used by the unit, the official said.

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