The Japanese government today approved a ¥5.34 trillion ($51.7 billion) defense budget for fiscal 2021 that includes funding for long range missiles, two new Aegis naval vessels and a next-generation fighter jet.
However, the defense ministry postponed budget allocation for upgrades to F-15 fighter jets that would allow them to carry long-range cruise missiles aimed at protecting Japan’s south-western island chain.
The draft budget is up 0.5% from fiscal 2020, including outlays linked to hosting the United States’ military bases, Kyodo News reported.
The budget includes ¥33.5 billion ($323.6 million) for development of indigenous standoff missiles. The missiles will require five years to develop as the ministry will extend the firing range of surface-to-ship missiles that it is developing and they will likely fly 900 km.
Another ¥1.7 billion ($16.42 million) was dedicated for two Aegis vessels being built as an alternative plan to a land-based Aegis Ashore system. The five-year project is estimated to cost ¥500 billion ($4.83 billion) totally.
The government also decided to spend ¥57.6 billion ($556.3 million) to develop a next-generation fighter jet to replace the Air Self-Defense Force's aging F-2 aircraft and will allocate ¥15.5 billion ($149.7 million) separately for related research. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. will lead the project with the support of Lockheed Martin Corp.
In new domains, the ministry allocated ¥119.1 billion ($1.15 billion) for outer space. That budget includes research costs for an optical telescope to monitor unidentified objects and satellite constellation to detect hypersonic weapons. Such weapons, capable of gliding faster and lower than ballistic missiles, are also being developed by China and Russia.
Japan has set aside ¥30.1 billion for cyberspace that includes setting up 450-member Self Defense Force (SDF) unit and another team to shield defense-related companies from cyberattacks; ¥2.8 billion research costs for a system to shoot down aerial threats, including drones, with a high-power laser; and ¥400 million to test next-generation 5G technology.