Maintenance costs for U.S.-made military aircraft are expected to balloon at such a rapid pace that some officials fear the expenses will end up hurting Japan’s security capabilities.
Defense Ministry officials have tried to find ways to reduce the spending, but no feasible ideas have been brought forward, except for the possible development of Japan’s own arms industry.
Concerns are rising that the costs paid to the United States to buy and maintain state-of-the-art aircraft will deplete the budget to service existing naval vessels and military vehicles.
“Maintenance funds for other helicopters and small planes will be reduced, making it impossible to repair them or replace their parts,” a senior official of the Self-Defense Forces said. “That could result in a decreased operational rate of SDF units.”
Japan now plans to introduce four types of the most advanced U.S.-made aircraft: Osprey transport aircraft, F-35 stealth fighters, Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft, and E-2D early warning aircraft.
The total annual average maintenance cost for these aircraft is estimated at 86 billion yen ($772 million) over 20 to 30 years.
Tokyo has a number of ways to buy aircraft and other military equipment from the United States, including imports through trading companies and via Washington’s government-to-government foreign military sales (FMS) program. (end of excerpt)
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