Japan has decided to buy nine more Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft from the United States, Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced on 12 October.
"The E-2C [Hawkeye airborne early warning] aircraft are expected to retire … in the coming 10 years, and thinking about the severe security environment, it is absolutely necessary to replace them with the E-2Ds, which have more capabilities," Iwaya said during a press conference.
The minister said the purchase of the additional platforms is to be incorporated into Japan's National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPGs) and Mid-Term Defense Plan (MTDP), both of which are to be published by the end of this year. The NDPGs will cover the next decade, while the MTDP will focus on the financial years 2019-23.
The move comes after the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced on 10 September that the US Department of State had approved Japan's request to buy the additional AEW&C aircraft to augment the four E-2Ds the country has already ordered. The approval of the proposed sale, which is estimated to be worth USD3.135 billion, covers the aircraft and systems, as well as training, support, and other services.
Five days earlier the US Department of Defense (DoD) had disclosed that Japan had signed for the last of four E-2Ds it was initially expected to procure. The contract followed similar awards made in November 2015, July 2016, and June 2018 for the first three aircraft.
To date Japan has spent almost USD945 million on its E-2D procurement programme, including non-recurring engineering and infrastructure. This initial batch is due to be delivered to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) before the end of 2020.
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