Japanese cabinet approves $42 bn defence budget for 2016

Tokyo, Dec 24 (IANS) The Japanese cabinet on Thursday approved a record-high 5.05 trillion yen ($42 billion) military budget for 2016 at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The military budget, part of a record 96.72 trillion yen ($799 billion) national budget to come into effect from April 2016, is the fourth time defence spending has been hiked under Abe’s leadership, Xinhua news agency reported.

The defence ministry, with its increased budget, has earmarked some next-generation hardware to beef up its clout, including an E-2D early warning plane and a KC-46A aerial refueling tanker, with analysts speculating that spending here reflects Abe’s ambitions to take Japan’s Self-Defence Forces’ operations overseas.

The E-2D’s boast an array of surveillance equipment and can provide early warnings for missiles launched against Japan or its interests and allies.

The KC-46A refueling tanker will allow Japan’s V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor transport aircraft to fly longer missions, the ministry said, and four more Osprey’s will be added to Japan’s air force from the new budget.

Along with the support planes, the budget has also earmarked the purchase of six F-35A stealth fighters, which are the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the next-generation, front role fighter, that equals the F-16 in terms of maneuver, but far outperforms the fighter in terms of stealth technology and comes equipped with a hefty internal cannon.

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