The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) are ramping up efforts to support defence industrial co-operation on major programmes with the aim of boosting local capability. The effort reflects growing economic constraints – amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic – and a linked requirement to bolster self-reliance.
The MoD has told Janes that its industrial participation strategy will be channelled through projects to enable local firms to play a more expansive role in two channels of engagement involving imported defence equipment: manufacturing components and systems, and the provision of comprehensive maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capability.
Japanese industry is contracted to produce 16% of the airframe structures for the JASDF’s four on-order KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft (pictured). (Boeing)
The MoD said other industrial priorities include the ongoing programme to locally assemble the Japan Air Self Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter aircraft and to strengthen the country’s network of defence-sector small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
A spokesperson from the MoD said that these efforts are a direct response to weaknesses in the Japanese defence industrial base and requirements outlined in the country’s 2019 defence policies – the long-term National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and the associated five-year Medium Term Defense Program (MTDP) – to strengthen the national defence industrial base.
“Based on the NDPG and the MTDP, the MoD and JSDF [are making] efforts to overcome challenges – such as high costs due to low-volume, high-mix production, and a lack of international competitiveness – by securing the production of high-performance equipment and enabling high operational availability,” said the spokesperson.