MELBOURNE, Australia — Japan is stepping up its investments in electronic warfare, with its latest defense budget request containing a number of related acquisitions and research activities in this domain.
The latest budget request from the Defense Ministry for fiscal 2020, which starts April 1, calls for $50.5 billion, an increase of 1.2 percent over the previous year and the eighth straight year of an increase.
The detailed budget request document released by the ministry contained a breakdown of funding allocation as well as line items of proposed acquisition and research projects. Among these were several items related to Japan’s electronic warfare, or EW, capabilities, ranging from acquiring and researching ground-based jammer systems to improving the EW capabilities of its fleet of F-15 Eagle fighter jets.
The budget request included a proposal to acquire one complete system of Japan’s truck-mounted Network Electronic Warfare System, or NEWS, for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force, or JGSDF, with the cost listed as $97 million.
NEWS is used for collecting, analyzing and classifying adversary signals intelligence, and subsequently jamming them. The system is mounted on the air-transportable Toyota Type 73 truck and exists in several sub-types, known in the JGSDF as Type 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each sub-type has a different role and covers different bands on the electromagnetic spectrum.
The JGSDF will also establish a new EW unit by the end of the next fiscal year, reportedly in Kumamoto prefecture in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s three main islands.
The ministry also asked for $35.8 million in research and development funds for a new ground-based, anti-aircraft EW system. The as-yet unnamed system will detect and jam the radars of enemy aircraft approaching Japan to neutralize them. A graphical representation in the ministry’s budget request document shows a large dish antenna mounted on an eight-wheel drive truck with a separate, truck-mounted control station or generator.
Japan’s airborne EW capabilities are also getting attention in the budget request. The ministry asked for a further $36.7 million and $19.5 million respectively to continue development work on upgrading Japan’s Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle interceptor fleet and a new standoff jammer aircraft.
Most of Japan’s F-15 fleet will eventually go through the upgrade, which will improve the type’s EW systems and expand its multirole capabilities. The latter will see the carriage and integration of the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, to its arsenal. JASSM is a low-observable standoff air-launched cruise missile used for land-attack missions. It’s currently in use with the U.S. military and by the forces of Australia, Finland and Poland.
Meanwhile, the new standoff jammer is expected to be based on the Kawasaki C-2 airlifter and perform standoff jamming of the adversary’s electromagnetic spectrum in the air, land and naval domains. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force already has a number of EP-3C Orion aircraft in similar roles, and the Defense Ministry is seeking funds to perform life-extension work on these aircraft for a fatigue assessment to ensure the airworthiness of the airframes.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News. He wrote his first defense-related magazine article in 1998 before pursuing an aerospace engineering degree at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Following a stint in engineering, he became a freelance defense reporter in 2013 and has written for several media outlets.