hardware

The Mystery of Japan’s KC-130 Buy

JSW pal Mike Yeo posted last week at his blog, The Base Leg, about a strange Japan Self Defense Forces purchase. Japan is purchasing 6 ex-US Marine Corps KC-130R transport/refueling aircraft. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency says in a statement: The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale to provide 6 KC-130R and 30...

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Mainichi: Japan tells U.S. it may halt F-35 purchase if prices rise

From Mainichi Daily News yesterday:

Japan tells U.S. it may halt F-35 purchase if prices rise

[...] In a letter dated Feb. 13, the ministry expressed its concern to the Pentagon over a rise in the price tag of the F-35, which is being developed by an international consortium led by U.S. aircraft maker Lockheed Martin Corp., the sources said.

The ministry also requested a review of the procurement system under a foreign military sales arrangement that allows the United States to change prices at its discretion, the sources said.

[...]

The letter was sent by Hideshi Tokuchi, chief of the ministry’s bureau of finance and equipment, and addressed to Frank Kendall, acting under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Tokuchi said in the letter that the possibility of canceling the F-35 procurement in the event its price rises cannot be denied. If the price does go up and the matter is deliberated in parliament, it would “invite severe criticism” and “jeopardize” the F-35 procurement plan, he said. [...]

Read more at the Mainichi Daily News site

It will be a great shame if Japan cancels its orders of the F-35 due to a price range, not least because the ASDF could really do with being shot of the F-X program so that it can look ahead to the successor to the F-15Js which seem to be slowly deteriorating.

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Update on GSDF’s First Mass-Produced Type-10

The Type-10 Tank during its induction ceremony

The Type-10 Tank during its induction ceremony (Source: Jiji)

Remember back in January when we showed you a video of the first mass production Type-10 tank being induced into the Fuji School of Armor? Well, Shukan Shincho reported in their February 2nd issue that the ceremony was actually hit by a stroke of bad luck: the tank was to be shown off in a demonstration, but on January 9th, the day before the initiation ceremony, a malfunction was discovered in the the protection circuit of the power system forcing the GSDF to cancel the demonstration. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the manufacturer, stated that they were unable to comment on the issue, but the GSDF Public Affairs Office announced that it was a program error, and that repair work was completed on January 22nd.

A bad start for all involved, and as the Shukan Shincho wrote: “You cannot be helped for feeling it’s had bad luck from the beginning.”

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News Flash: Tanaka Replaces Private Secretary, F15 Parts Lost 115 Times Since 2007, Shiga Requests SDF Snow Aid

There are a series of very important small pieces of news in the press today:

Defense Minister Tanaka Replaces Private Secretary

After several gaffes by the new defense minister, see Shisaku for an excellent list, Naoki Tanaka has replaced his private secretary and reinstated former Defense Minister Kitazawa’s secretary in hopes of releasing some of the incredible pressure he is under at the Diet.

An experienced defense policy professional, Manabu Mannami stepped down today after two years as private secretary, and Takahiro Yoshida returns to Ichigaya from the Ministry’s Defense Planning Bureau. Tanaka blames Mannami’s ineptitude for his poor Diet performance, and stated that he wanted to be prepared to deal with the current Budgetary Committee deliberations.  The Asahi states that officials at the ministry believe the change came at his wife’s requestMakiko Tanaka was Koizumi’s Foreign Minister and is a powerful Ozawa supporter.

 

F15 Parts Lost on 115 Occasions Since 2007

The Asahi reports that since 2007, there have been 115 incidents of parts falling from ASDF F15s mid-flight – of which only nine were reported to the local government, and only six were officially announced to the press. The ASDF says that small parts frequently drop off with little chance of damage, but local authorities complain that this information should be passed on regardless.

The study, made by the ASDF Staff Office, covers incidents spanning from April 2007 to December 2011. Most of the incidents involve bolts or screws dropping from the plane. By base, the figures are as follows:

  • Hyakuri (Ibaraki): 29 incidents
  • Nyutabara (Miyazaki): 22 incidents
  • Tsuiki (Fukuoka): 20 incidents
  • Komatsu (Ishikawa): 16 incidents
  • Chitose (Hokkaido): 14 incidents
  • Naha (Okinawa): 10 incidents
  • Gifu (Gifu): 2 incidents

 

SDF Deployed to Handle Shiga Snow

For the first time in 31 years, the SDF were requested to aid Shiga Prefecture with the record snowfall. The SDF were requested by Shiga and Kyoto Prefecutures following a record 87 centimeters of snow (as recorded in Maizuru, Kyoto). The snow has left 21 households and 56 people isolated in the town of Makino in Takashima, Shiga.

The SDF can be called into action by local authorities to deal with disaster situations, and they are frequently requested for help against heavy snow. For information on the involvement of the SDF in local snow operations, see my post from last year.

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A Quick and Cheap Power Projection Alternative for Japan

A Quick and Cheap Power Projection Alternative for Japan

Over at the USNI Blog, Galrahn posted a link to a marketing article by the shipping company Maersk Line. Galrahn calls it “A Potential Plan B for Seabasing“. The article discusses converting Maersk commercial container ships into Afloat Forward Staging Bases, complete with everything from a 14 V-22 Osprey-capable flight deck to the ability to...

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Video: Type-10 Tank Initiation Ceremony

From Jiji on January 10th, we have this wonderful video of the initiation ceremony of the first mass production model of the Type-10 tank into the GSDF’s armor training unit at the GSDF Fuji School in Shizuoka Prefecture, whose open day I attended last year.

Until this point, the Type-10s in use at the school have been experimental production models. The mass production model now entering service with the school is the product of several changes and upgrades on the experimental models.

Once the school has received its complement of tanks, expect to see their use extending into the GSDF’s armored units for general service, bringing a much-needed modern light-weight battle tank to fill the gaps caused by the restrictions of the use of the Type-90 outside Hokkaido.

[H/T to Corey Wallace]

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Japanese Air Force One/Two

Japanese Air Force One/Two

One of the two dedicated government aircraft taking off from Haneda

One of the two dedicated government aircraft taking off from Haneda (Source: Anon/2ch)

The ASDF's seal adorned the inside of the 747's door

The ASDF's seal adorned the inside of the 747's door (Source: Interceptor)

On my way to Hokkaido for the annual New Year family festivities, I happened to spot one of Japan’s dedicated government aircraft, better described (perhaps) by their callsigns, Japanese Air Force One/Two, or their colloquial name, the “Flying Kantei”. I presume it was Prime Minister Noda heading to India (as I spotted the jet on TV later that day), but it was a nice surprise for the usual drudge of flying through Haneda.

The jets, two Boeing 747-400s (registered as JA8091/JA8092), are operated by the 701st Squadron of the Air Self-Defense Force’s Special Airlift Group, based out of Chitose, Hokkaido. Interestingly, the unit relies on the civilian ground support of Japan Airlines. At the rear of the craft, it has ASDF signage, and there is a huge crest of the ASDF on the back of the door.

Read more about the aircraft over at Wikipedia.

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Japan's 'Three Principles of Arms Exports' about to enter a new phase

Japan’s ‘Three Principles of Arms Exports’ about to enter a new phase

At today’s meeting of the Japanese Security Council (安全保障会議) the proposal to relax Japan’s ‘Three Principles of Arms Exports’ (武器輸出三原則 – hereafter, the ‘Three Principles’) will be tabled and agreed to. The information will be publicly promulgated by way of a Chief Cabinet Secretary Statement (官房長官談話). That this is finally happening is not much of...

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Is F-35 the Right Choice for Japan?

Is F-35 the Right Choice for Japan?

Examining some of the perspectives that grew out of international media coverage of Japan's decision to purchase the F-35 as a replacement to its aging fleet of F-4 Phantoms.

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F-35 Officially Selected as F-X Fighter

F-35 Officially Selected as F-X Fighter

It comes as no surprise, but the F-35 will be Japan's next-generation fighter, beating out the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon in a contentious decision that seems to favor the technology over time constraints.

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F-X Selection Heading Towards F-35

F-X Selection Heading Towards F-35

Both Yomiuri and Kyodo are suggesting that the F-X selection has been whittled down to the F-35 ahead of an official announcement.

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F-X Fighter Decision Delay: English Language Troubles?

The Sankei reports on the Ministry of Defense's struggle to understand the English language proposals submitted for the F-X program

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