Japan may scrap plan to buy U.S. Global Hawk UAS

Japan may scrap plan to buy U.S. Global Hawk planes – link

Source: The Japan Times

Article Headlines
  • Japan may scrap its plan to buy three U.S.-made Global Hawk UAS for deployment in fiscal 2021
  • The government is reconsidering the plan and will soon make a decision, which could be the cancellation of the purchase, according to informed sources
  • It is the second time for Japan to review a procurement deal under Washington’s Foreign Military Sales program, following the recent decision to scrap the plan to deploy the U.S.-made Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system
  • The latest rethink appears to be part of Tokyo’s efforts to slash government spending and optimize its defense capability as the security situation surrounding Japan is changing rapidly
  • The move was prompted by a U.S. Air Force proposal to retire its Block 30 and Block 20 Global Hawk aircraft in its fiscal 2021 budget request
  • “The retirement will leave Japan and South Korea the only countries with Block 30 aircraft,” a source said. “Fewer aircraft obviously means higher maintenance costs.”
  • However, the U.S. Congress is putting a halt to the retirement plan with a proposed national defense authorization act. The Japanese government is closely monitoring related developments
  • Also, behind the Japanese review are higher purchase costs and a change in the country’s defense vision, sources said
  • The total cost of the three Global Hawk planes was estimated at about ¥51 billion ($480 million) in 2014, when the government decided on the purchase. But Washington told Tokyo in 2017 that the cost would rise by 23 percent
  • Tokyo initially planned to use the Global Hawks to strengthen its surveillance against North Korea and over remote islands
  • The planes would be useful to some extent in monitoring the reclusive country. But they would be of little use in emergency situations involving China, which has a strong air defense capability. Additionally, a Global Hawk was shot down by Iran in June last year
  • “We can’t put such expensive planes at risk of being shot down. They’re not good for surveillance over the ocean, so there wouldn’t be much use for them,” another source said
  • Scrapping the purchase plan will save maintenance costs, but the government would be criticized as it has already paid some of the procurement costs
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