The government will earmark funds needed to introduce cruise missiles for fighter jets capable of striking enemy bases in the fiscal 2018 budget draft, a source familiar with the matter revealed on Dec. 5. It also came to light that the government will earmark about 100 million yen to conduct research on the introduction of the ground-based “Aegis Ashore” missile interceptor system in the supplementary budget draft for the current fiscal year. This was initially scheduled to be incorporated into the FY2018 budget, but Aegis Ashore related expenses will be partially secured ahead of schedule. With tensions over the North Korean issue growing, the government will step up efforts to protect the general public from the threat of ballistic missiles.
These plans were revealed by several people close to the government. The missile that will be requested in the FY2018 budget is a “Joint Strike Missile,” which is currently developed by Norway and others. It has an estimated range of about 500 km and has “air-to-ship” and “air-to-ground” striking capabilities. It will be mounted on cutting-edge F-35A stealth fighter jets, which the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) is deploying starting from the current fiscal year. This will become the first air-to-ground missile for the ASDF to deploy and is expected to have a drastically longer range.
The government will also allocate funds needed to introduce the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) and the Long Range Anti-Missile Ship (LRASM), both of which are developed by the U.S., in the FY2018 budget. Expenses needed to retrofit ASDF jets to mount these missile systems will be also incorporated. The JASSM-ER and the LRASM can reach 900 to 1000 km. Thus North Korea will come within range from the Sea of Japan.
Meanwhile, the entire Japan will be covered by two Aegis Ashore systems. It costs about 80 billion yen per system. The Ground Self-Defense Force will plan to operate them. The government had initially requested funds for the acquisition of new equipment, including the Aegis Ashore, in the 2018 budget. But it becomes imperative to frontload the money allocation, given that North Korea fired 14 ballistic missiles this year alone.
By securing Aegis Ashore related funds in the FY2017 supplementary budget, the government will promptly embark on the acquisition of information from the U.S., the selection of deployment sites and negotiations with local communities. The Ministry of Defense eyes deploying Aegis Ashore batteries in Akita and Yamaguchi Prefecture, but opposition lingers within and outside the ministry. It will continue to iron out differences. The extra budget will also include funds needed to procure an upgraded version of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), improve the performance of warning and control systems and update radar systems.