The government presented to the ruling parties on Dec. 11 the following outline draft for the Mid-Term Defense Program (FY 2019-2023):
Review of key units
Newly form one unit specialized in space (Air Self-Defense Force). Newly form one cyber defense unit (joint unit). Enhance the Joint Staff arrangement for proper management and coordination of electromagnetic wave use. Newly form two ballistic missile defense units (Ground Self-Defense Force). Newly form a cyber unit and an electromagnetic wave operation unit in the Ground Component Command. Maintain GSDF strength at around 159,000 personnel.
Main initiatives concerning SDF capabilities
Acquire more U.S. state-of-the-art stealth F-35A fighters to replace F-15 fighters unsuitable for modernization. Newly introduce short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft. After deliberation, renovate the Maritime Self-Defense Force multipurpose helicopter carrier (“Izumo”-class) in preparation for a situation in which the STOVL operation will become necessary.
Regarding Japan’s future fighter, promote the necessary research by the time of the retirement of the F-2 fighter and start developing a new fighter as early as possible under Japan’s lead while keeping an eye on international cooperation.