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Japan strengthens its weapons and equipment research and development system

Since the end of 2022, after the adjustment of national defense policy, financing for the year 2022 has increased from 291.1 billion yen to 896.8 billion yen in 2023, accounting for more than 3.3% of the percentage of defense costs. The 2024 R&D budget is still more than 800 billion yen, continuing to run at a high level

Over the past decades, Japan has maintained research and development costs for weapons and equipment and related technologies worth about 200 billion yen (about US$1.3 billion).

However, since the end of 2022, after Japan's defense policy adjustment, funding has increased from 291.1 billion yen in 2022 to 896.8 billion yen in 2023, accounting for more than 3.3 percent of the defense cost share.

The 2024 R&D budget is still more than 800 billion yen, continuing to run at a high level.

Japan has included about 3.5 trillion yen as the R&D budget in the 2023-2027 defense force readiness plan, an amount four times higher than in the previous cycle. This means that Japan's defense budget is mainly used for R&D in addition to the purchase of weapons and equipment.

In terms of employment, Japanese R&D funding has focused mainly on the renewal of combat weapons and the design of sophisticated next-generation weapons.

Primarily, in upgrading and modifying domestically produced missiles. Currently, Japan is intensifying the promotion of the Type 12 land-based missile and the improvement of R&D projects, planning to increase its range from 200 to 1,000 km and expand the sea-launch platform model; the intention is to build a full-fledged cruise missile. At the same time, Japan is also promoting the development of an improved version of the 03-type surface-to-air missile.

Second, develop hypersonic weapons. In July 2022, Japan's independently developed scramjet engine achieved breakthrough progress. Since then, Tokyo has stepped up efforts to promote the development of hypersonic glide bombs. The Ministry of Defense, in fact, has formulated a two-phase research and development plan. It is planned to install an "initial equipment type" in 2026 to build something from scratch, and to install a "performance improvement type" in 2028; to further improve speed and range and achieve higher speed. This is a complex, maneuverable orbit-changing technology.

Looking to the next generation of cutting-edge weapons. Japan, the United Kingdom and Italy have jointly launched the so-called “Global Air Combat Plan” to jointly develop sixth-generation fighter aircraft that can be deployed in 2035. Japan is also jointly developing electromagnetic weapons with Germany and France and plans to invest 23 .8 billion yen to solve energy problems related to the miniaturization of electromagnetic weapons and the assembly of platforms.

Intensify research and development of unmanned systems

Among the many fields of research and technological development affecting Japan, the construction of unmanned equipment systems is the focus of investment. Tokyo plans to invest 1 trillion yen within five years to focus on technological research such as unmanned submarines and unmanned multipurpose surface ships.

At present, the Ministry of Defense has launched a national research and development project of unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, planning to test the prototype by the end of this year and simultaneously promote the development of manned/unmanned collaborative combat systems . The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force will introduce drone combat subjects in the 2023 "Comprehensive Firepower Exercise Fuji" to practice drone attack modes, and plans to form a multi-purpose drone combat unit. The Japan Land Self-Defense Force has launched a national unmanned combat vehicle research and development project and is expected to enter the test phase in 2025. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will work with the United States, Australia and others countries to promote verification of key technologies for unmanned submarines.

At the same time, Japan will continue to increase the militarized use of AI, focusing on training AI combat models to be incorporated into reconnaissance and command systems to upgrade existing equipment digitally, intelligently and without pilot. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has begun integrating artificial intelligence target recognition systems into maritime patrol aircraft to improve the efficiency of target recognition.

The Japanese Ministry of Defense said that in order to promote the research and development of related technologies, the Japanese Ministry of Defense will set up the "Defense Innovation Technology Institute" and hire more than 100 professionals from the Japanese government and private sector to serve as research and development project managers to introduce advanced civilian technologies into the military field in order to accelerate the development of new weapons that will change future combat styles.

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