Tokyo reportedly seeks to deploy “hundreds” of attack drones to remote islands
The Japanese military has devised a plan to use kamikaze drones to strike the enemy’s landing forces and vessels, in case of an invasion of the nation’s remote territories such as the Nansei Islands, according to local media reports.
Initially, “on a trial basis,” the military wants to deploy a limited number of unspecified types of US and other foreign-made loitering munitions, until the Japanese defense industry comes up with a viable domestic alternative, the Japan Times reported on Sunday. Japan’s Jiji news agency wrote that by 2025 the military hopes to deploy “several hundreds” of such aircraft to boost the defenses of the Nansei Islands and other remote regions.
The Defense Ministry included the attack drone capability in its 2023 budget request, the biggest in the country’s history, but how much funds will be actually allocated has yet to be decided.
The new measure seems to be aimed at Beijing, as Japanes media reports specifically noted that China has already developed and put attack drones to “practical use,” all while “expanding its activities” around Japan’s southwestern islands.
Various types of loitering munitions, commonly known as ‘kamikaze’ or ‘sucicide’ drones, have been widely used in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Washington has provided Ukraine with hundreds of Switchblade tactical kamikaze drones, as well as the model dubbed Phoenix Ghost, supposedly custom-developed to Kiev’s specifications on short notice. Russian forces have also been using multiple types of kamikaze drones, particularly during a massive strike on Ukraine’s key infrastructure sites last week.
In late August, the Japanese Defense Ministry asked the government to approve a record 5.59 trillion yen ($37.6 billion) for the next fiscal year, citing concerns about alleged threats posed by China and North Korea, and claiming that Beijing “continues to threaten to use force to unilaterally change the status quo and is deepening its alliance with Russia.”
The budget increase would go toward the mass-production of ground-launched cruise missiles, as well as improving the range of its Type 12 missile, the ministry said, adding that it would also seek to develop a hypersonic projectile. Though officials did not offer any planned specifications for the new weapon, they said it would likely be able to reach mainland China if it were stationed on Japan’s Okinawa island chain.
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