Japan plans to go way beyond the last millennium's 'Self Defense Force" chiz and be all bulking up for regional puissance!
Japan’s navy—the Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF)—will see a boost in ships. The number of diesel-electric submarines is set to rise from 16 to 22. Submarine construction is holding steady at one per year, and the rise will be accomplished, at least in the short term, by refurbishing submarines of the Oyashio class that would otherwise be retired. Japan’s submarines are typically retired after 18 years in service, so its older submarines are actually rather young compared with those of other countries.Pic - "Rising Sun!"
The MSDF will also receive a boost in destroyers, with seven more to be acquired, including two Aegis destroyers. The new procurement plan will bring Japan’s total number of destroyers from 47 to 54, and Aegis destroyers from six to eight. In order to accommodate the extra destroyers within the MSDF’s force structure an additional escort flotilla will be formed. Each flotilla consists of two escort squadrons, with each squadron consisting of 4 destroyers. There are currently four escort flotillas, based at Yokosuka, Sasebo, Maizuru, and Kure.
Additionally, there reports that the MSDF is studying the purchase of littoral combat ships of its own. The Mainichi Daily News reports that small, high-speed escort ships to counter the threat of mines and submarines are being considered. Such ships would be ideal for operating in and around the Ryukyus, especially the Miyako Strait.
Finally, four Kawasaki P-1 maritime patrol aircraft will be purchased, bringing the total number in service up to six. The P-1 is an indigenous design meant to replace the Lockheed P-3C Orion. It is similar to the P-8 Poseidon, the most notable difference being that it retains a magnetic anomaly detection boom. Up to 70 P-1s will ultimately be procured.
The Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) will see both a reorganization and injection of new aircraft. The number of ASDF intercepts of foreign aircraft has sharply increased, particularly over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. In response Japan is not only shifting aircraft southward, but is increasing the number of support aircraft and ground radar systems. Fighter aircraft will also see a modest boost.
The airborne early warning group, which oversees Japan’s four E-767 AWACS and 13 E-2C Hawkeyes, will purchase an additional four AWACS aircraft and increase the number of squadrons from two to three. One squadron will be based on Okinawa, where it will be able to monitor the Ryukyus and East China Sea. In addition to aerial radar platforms, the number of ground radar warning squadrons will be bumped to 28.
Fighter squadrons will increase from 12 to 13, with the number of fighters set to grow from 260 to 280 units. Japan will acquire 28 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters during the five-year period covered by the Mid Term Defense Plan, with another 14 to follow later. Japan is considering a second F-35 purchase, possibly including the F-35B vertical takeoff and landing version for deployment on Japan’s Izumo and Hyuga-class helicopter destroyers.
Japan’s Ground Self Defense Forces (GSDF) will see the most change, with sweeping alterations to force structure. The new GSDF will feature three rapid-deployment divisions, three rapid-deployment brigades, one airborne brigade, one helicopter brigade, and one amphibious brigade.
The amphibious brigade will be built on the Western Army Infantry Regiment, a battalion-sized marine infantry unit based at Nagasaki on the southern island of Kyushu. The regiment has served for the past decade as Japan’s test bed for amphibious warfare, and has participated in the joint Iron Fist and Dawn Blitz exercises with United States forces.
National Defense Program Guidelines represent a significant change in Japanese defense policy. New capabilities, such as ISR assets, joint operations, and amphibious units will go a long way toward addressing gaps in Japan’s existing defenses. The reorganization of the Self Defense Forces, as well as procurement initiatives for equipment such as the Osprey and Global Hawk will create a foundational basis for the defense of Japan’s southern islands.