The Ministry of Defense (MOD) is planning to launch a new “certification system” to promote the use of private-sector expertise in the development of defense equipment, the Sankei Shimbun learned from several sources close to the MOD on April 4. Private firms have become more sophisticated in technological expertise, and the government aims to pool the technological innovations of the private sector, including new business models developed by “startups,” to accelerate the development of defense equipment. The program will be launched ahead of the revisions to the National Security Strategy and other key defense documents the government aims to complete by year-end.
Under the new system, the MOD will receive proposals from the private sector on systems that use cutting-edge technology and expertise that is specifically used for the development of defense equipment. It will designate projects of high importance and urgency as “special projects.” The MOD will set up a cross-agency team to promote special projects and task it with policymaking to achieve the early development of defense equipment through R&D and the creation of prototypes.
Areas that the MOD envisages tapping private-sector expertise are drones and other labor-saving technologies; “standoff missiles,” long-range missiles that can be fired from outside the enemy’s range; “new domains” of outer space, cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum; “next-generation networks,” such as 5G; and cognition and artificial intelligence (AI).
The MOD is already consulting the business community regarding the launch of the new certification system and has also communicated its plan to the Liberal Democratic Party, which has long called for accelerated development of defense equipment by leveraging private-sector expertise. The MOD will roll out part of the new system ahead of the anticipated year-end release of an updated version of the NSS and incorporate feedback into the revisions. (Abridged)