politics

Japan overturns decision to cancel U.S. drone acquisition

75 Comments

The requested article has expired, and is no longer available. Any related articles, and user comments are shown below.

© KYODO

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

75 Comments
Login to comment

Someone deserves a Nobel Chickenhawk Prize

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This is great news, with the global hawks thermal cameras we can get a reliable estimate of the number of homeless sleeping outdoors. A must have when crafting social policy.

4 ( +17 / -13 )

If looks could kill?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

To be honest i never knew drones could actually be that big. That's a freaking aircraft.

I don't think there would be much use for it if it can only focus on land. What is there even to spy at in Japan? To count how many wild bears there are? We have tons of helicopters for that.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

The policy change reflected "excessive consideration for Trump," the source said.

The policy change, that is, the decision to buy expensive drones after all, was motivated by "excessive consideration" for then President Donald Trump, who may raise heckles for Japan’s scrapping of the Aegis Ashore project. Consideration for others is called sontaku in Japanese.

Some poster says that Japan takes the initiative in matters concerned with U.S. bases. It may look like so, but in reality it is the U.S. that decides the matter. Tokyo only surmises Washington's real intention and executes the matter out of sontaku. Landfill work in Henoko for Futenma’s relocation is the case in point.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

We can use them to spy on US bases.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

These things will make great targets for the Chinese laser weapons.

We are not talking about some guys in the desert shooting at the sky with rifles.

-2 ( +11 / -13 )

Cancelling, then uncancelling Global Hawks will only add hundreds of millions to the cost for no reason.

I don't know who's running Japan's defense policy, but you are seeing lots of wastes like this when Japan's defense budget is so small and there is no room for error.

-19 ( +10 / -29 )

Headline: Japan overturnS or, overturned ? This decision to proceed with the order was 18 months ago!

Jan 9, 2022 6:30am: “Japan overturns decision to cancel U.S. drone acquisition” -

Nothing current about this disclosure other than to bring a former president and ineffective defense & prime ministers back into the news and make an allied, foreign country look like pushy interventionists.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

Plus, reads like the problem is with the ‘fickle, impratical customer’ here, not an ‘aggressive salesman’ ??

2014: Japan ordered

Feb 2020: Publicly ‘cancelled’ order

Jun 2020: Japan continues with original order for delivery -

Accept delivery of now obsolete & unusable tech for the purposes the ‘customer’ wrongly envisioned.

“In 2014, the Defense Ministry decided to purchase the Global Hawk drones to monitor N. Korean military facilities.

However, the remotely controlled unmanned drones are not capable of protecting themselves or launching attacks. "It is impractical to fly them in the airspace of other countries," a Defense Ministry official said.

While Japan was eager to use the drones for surveillance in the East China Sea, where Tokyo is engaged in a territorial dispute with Beijing, the Global Hawks that Japan intends to deploy are designed to monitor land areas and modifying them for sea observation would incur massive costs.” -

5 ( +10 / -5 )

"Japan overturns decision to cancel U.S. drone acquisition"

Gosh, the use of the present tense in the title here really confused me. I was under the impression initially that the Japanese government just in this new year of 2022 had overturned its decision to cancel the acquisition out of consideration to now disgraced, twice-impeached, former U.S. President Donald Trump. But in fact the decision to overturn was made in the summer of 2020 when Trump was already disgraced and once-impeached but in fact still U.S president. How crazy would it be if the Japanese government now was making decisions so as not to offend the Loser of Mar-a-Lago?

0 ( +10 / -10 )

It would appear that the writer(s) of this article have taken the habitual JT "expert" line, i.e. write even though they're mostly clue;less about the subject.

"Northrop Grumman has conducted the first flight of an RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The maiden sortie took place on April 15 from Palmdale in California, which is the site of the company’s Global Hawk factory within Air Force Plant 42."

"With an endurance of greater than 32 hours, the Global Hawks will provide around-the-clock multi-sensor surveillance capability that enhances Japan’s ability to monitor Chinese developments, track maritime traffic, and protect its islands. The type could also play a role in missile defense."

RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), compatible with maritime operations.

"https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2021-04-19/first-global-hawk-uav-japan-takes-air"

"Experts"!

Who needs them?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

These things will make great targets for the Chinese laser weapons.

LOL. China doesn't need laser weapons .. they can just have bat barbeque party and hey presto we are all at half of our lung capacity.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Japan overturns decision to cancel U.S. drone acquisition

Let us not drone on and on about it.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Wasting money, again..

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

So the Japanese government has reneged on their decision that they will not not cancel their decision to buy the drones? So, will they get them or not?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

happyhere

Today 07:35 am JST

We can use them to spy on US bases

You do know that every US base in Japan has hundreds, if not thousands, of Japanese citizens working on them, full time, some in command headquarters positions, right? Not to mention that many US bases in Japan are actually jointly operated with SDF units.......

So using a billion yen drone to "spy" on US bases that are normally, (outside current COVID restrictions), open to the Japanese public with very little restriction, seems a bit overkill, (pun intended).

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Useless when you got 2000 to 3000 missiles coming at you within an hour China style, Israel has the iron Dome and it could not stop the all LOW TECH missiles Hamas fired last year. If cahina goes to war with any nation I would expect thousands upon thousands of missiles fired in the first 24 hours.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Agreed, Japan “wasting money..” when it’s diligent AUKUS allies are already ‘so-much-better equipped’ and ‘ready to handle the hard work’ IF needed to curtail Japan’s increasingly, aggressive ‘neighbors’ to the west of Taiwan.

*- @TokyoLiving 9:16am: “Wasting money, again..”*

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Honest Abe made an Honest Abe decision. Honestly he must have had his honest Abe thought process behind his original decision as he is Honest Abe, and spending that much money who cares, except the children living in poverty but they can remotely fly these things so they get a wage Abe looks good and perhaps by accident Japanese nationals might get a job that pays more than ¥1,000 yen an hour.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"However, the remotely controlled unmanned drones are not capable of protecting themselves or launching attacks. "It is impractical to fly them in the airspace of other countries," a Defense Ministry official said."

So why do they cost so much?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wait a second!! -Japan “wasting money, again..” seems somewhat hypocritical from the same poster would just declared @9:18am: “*Long live to Pachinko !!..” *?? - Where are the sensible priorities to help rather than continue to hinder Japan’s indigent and financially-enslaved, ‘working poor’ ?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

These are a waste of money. Most surveillance and spying these days is done via satellite. I can't imagine a circumstance where Japan looks back and says "Geez, if we had had those drones, we would have known about something"

To me, these look like expensive "toys" for the defence department.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Defense budgets (USA) are about waste, corruption, excessive R&D, fatcat generals cashing-in, and minimally, defense. Apparently, Japan's warriors have decided to follow a similar schema.

As for acquiescing to the will of The Don aka Trump, in that way lies madness. His expertise in hotels and gambling may serve him well in certain spheres, but he's an amateur when it comes to the defense industry. Though obviously delighted to be a pitchman (or con artist) for the corporate sector that arms the world.

As for Abe and his fevered dreams of empire & glory and fabled rise of a mighty Japan, he is no longer sitting upon the throne and instead slipping into old age and (hopefully) obsolescence, except for the occasional trumpet to war against the evils of China. His continued hand on the wheel of the ship of state would have led to further disaster on numerous fronts, especially the military.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Reading this article had me confused.

The original decision was to purchase the drones.

A subsequent decision was made to cancel the purchase.

However, the decision to cancel the purchase has now been reversed.

Japan will purchase the drones.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ken HolcombToday  09:33 am JST

happyhere

Today 07:35 am JST

We can use them to spy on US bases

You do know that every US base in Japan has hundreds, if not thousands, of Japanese citizens working on them, full time, some in command headquarters positions, right? Not to mention that many US bases in Japan are actually jointly operated with SDF units.......

So using a billion yen drone to "spy" on US bases that are normally, (outside current COVID restrictions), open to the Japanese public with very little restriction, seems a bit overkill, (pun intended).

Recognising sarcasm seems not to be your greatest skill.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

zichiToday  10:31 am JST

Surveillance satellites take time to move. They are used to spy on citizens too. Maritime countries need surveillance aircraft

I think there are plenty of US satellites already in place continuously monitoring NK and China. We always get images of NK nuclear facilities when the need to show them arises.

Allies are supposed to share intelligence.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

are not capable of protecting themselves or launching attacks

Hopefully they have at least some starting, flying and landing features. lol

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Typical jgov being indecisive and clueless.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

The Canadian government is going through something similar with its CF-18 replacement. First it agreed to by the US F35, then backed out, and now the decision is between the Saab Gripen-E and the F35, but insiders predict its already a done deal to purchase the F35. Go figure.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Hiro To be honest i never knew drones could actually be that big. That's a freaking aircraft. SEE AND TOUCH THEM EVERYDAY, yes they are big!!!

I don't think there would be much use for it if it can only focus on land. THATS BECAUSE YOU DONT UNDERSTAND THEIR PURPOSE!

What is there even to spy at in Japan? To count how many wild bears there are? We have tons of helicopters for that.

YOU WOULD BE SURPRISED THEY ARE NOT ONLY USED FOR SPYING THEY WERE ALSO USED TO LOOK DEEP INTO THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is a horribly written article.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

P. Smith (Jan. 9 09:10 am JST),

Okinawa's protests are always bidirectional. When Okinawa lodges protests against the U.S. directly, some say we are barking up a wrong tree. No, that isn’t true. The Japanese government is working only as a red herring for the U.S. government, a real drug. That's all there is to it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

So why do they cost so much?

The sensors and communications equipment that give the Global Hawk the ability to stream data to ground stations for operators and commanders to view in near real time and use to make decisions with is not inexpensive to operate or maintain. It's not a Go-Pro on a cheap quad-copter. It has sensors that can see far across an adversaries borders and discriminate among objects and vehicles on the ground and track their movements. It's comms have to be encrypted and secure, and it is transmitting a lot of data as it flies. A Global Hawk flying in international airspace could see things far into North Korea or China and report what it detects to commanders in Japan. It's sensor range combined with the altitudes it flies at allow it to conduct useful surveillance while staying safely inside friendly territory where it can be defended from attack, much as the U-2 and TR-1 are used. It was not designed and never intended to use behind enemy lines, same as the U-2 and for the same reasons. A U-2 mission is much more expensive and takes many hours to suit up and prepare the pilot for a mission that is typed into a computer for a Global Hawk and flown from a ground based station in shirt sleeves. Last, you can afford to lose a few Global Hawks since no pilots are at risk.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I think there are plenty of US satellites already in place continuously monitoring NK and China. We always get images of NK nuclear facilities when the need to show them arises.

Allies are supposed to share intelligence.

Satellites follow highly predictable orbits. They are easily detected and tracked from a series of USAF ground stations. From experience, it is possible to do things on the ground when you know a satellite is not overhead to see you, then hide things when the satellite comes over the horizon. The value of recce aircraft is their unpredictability. They can show up when a satellite is not overhead and see what goes on when your adversary thinks nobody can see what they are up to.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

These are a waste of money. Most surveillance and spying these days is done via satellite. I can't imagine a circumstance where Japan looks back and says "Geez, if we had had those drones, we would have known about something"

Satellites do not have persistence. They come over the horizon and a few minutes later are gone. Their orbits take 45 minutes and do not overfly the same track on every orbit. It is surprisingly easy to do things on the ground and avoid being seen doing it by satellites. I have lived it. Surveillance aircraft and big UASs like Global Hawk can hang out for hours, even a whole day in the case of a big UAS, giving them the ability to keep watch over an area for days or months on end as drones are rotated through. An adversary can't hide their activities as easily as they can hide from satellites.

And while Global Hawk isn't the kind of UAS that can fly over well defended territory (that was never in its design brief), there are such UASs that are all aspect low observable, have very long endurance and can hang out over the best defended airspace suppressing their air defenses in coordination with other aircraft and missiles. Think something the size of a B-2 but unmanned. There will also be UASs accompanying low observable fighters like the F-35, working in concert with manned aircraft to attack the highest risk targets to clear the way for manned aircraft to follow or conducting electronic warfare.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

concerns that cancellation of the Global Hawk acquisition would "anger Mr Trump, who has insisted on exporting U.S.-made weapons," 

'Anger Mr. Trump', is pretty easy to do, he's a male with extremely thin skin, pampered all his life and accustomed to getting his way, and spits the dummy whenever anyone does not fully agree with him. Trump was a great friend of big defense industries, especially ones he owned shares in. If he comes back to the WH, look for him and his fellow extreme rightists to find some smaller nation to attack so they can feel good about themselves.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

It’s expected the U.S. government will make the Japanese government a red herring or a front for it and that more likely the U.S. will let JSDF jointly use hitherto exclusive U.S. bases.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

In the long run, it is more expensive to not be prepared to defend one's country. As to what systems are the best to deploy, I leave that up to those who know more than i.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Who would want to rely on drones when there are so many satellites doing a much better job nowadays?

Incalcitrant yet obedient Japanese leaders..(?)

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

If Iran can shoot these down over the Gulf…

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is a good decision. When you live in a dangerous neighborhood like this one, the more eyes you have around you so much the better.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

venze (Today  02:00 pm JST),

Drones such as Global Hawks do not only surveillance work of enemy troop movement but actually engage in combats also, attacking enemy targets accurately, don’t they?

It’s said that they are remotely controlled by operators sitting in the Pentagon’s operations room.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Spy satellites are an important tool, but they are not over a position of interest continuously, and cannot fly under cloud cover.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"So the Japanese government has reneged on their decision that they will not not cancel their decision to buy the drones? So, will they get them or not?"

So, what do you think will happen when you contact your phone provider to tell them you no longer wish to proceed with the cancellation of your contract?

Why this is even a question (on many JT "experts" minds) is beyond me!

Japan WILL have 3 RQ-4B Block 30 Global Hawks!

The first one is already flying.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Bad news.

Seems the MoD is still Abe's goon, oh wait, it's head by his literal brother.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The defense of Nihon has nothing to do with leftist mental disorders, one would hope. Defense should not be political in free countries, where it is the number one job of government. The FACT is that China has become a serious belligerent in the current age, necessitating a more defensive posture. Leftists are only concerned with their own power, which eventually leads to the enslavement of the populace rather than it's protection.

The US has spent much more protecting the peace 7000 miles from it's continent than Nihon has and the whining looks weak.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Ryder

Me think it's better for Japan to build up its own SDF and defense technology, and not relying on the USA.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Drones such as Global Hawks do not only surveillance work of enemy troop movement but actually engage in combats also, attacking enemy targets accurately, don’t they?

RQ-4 Global Hawk and its naval version MQ-4 Triton have no armament. They are strictly very long range and long endurance surveillance platforms. There are much less costly and thus expendable UASs that are used to deliver ordnance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It’s said that they are remotely controlled by operators sitting in the Pentagon’s operations room.

The mission operators, at least from what has been presented in the open press, are mostly at Creech AFB north of Las Vegas along US 95. You can see the clearly on Google Maps. The operators who launch and recover the UAS are at the operating base. Once aloft control is transferred to operators at Creech. When the UAS is ready to land the operators at Creech hand control over to operators at the UAS destination airfield. The sensor information can most definitely be streamed to commanders in many locations who can view the data and make near real time decisions based on it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Iran can shoot these down over the Gulf…

That is an allegation that has never been confirmed. The story I have seen in the defense press was the Iranians spoofed its data link and crashed it. However consider that in 1969 a North Korean MiG-21 very much shot down a big US Navy EC-121 recce aircraft in international airspace (90 miles from DPRK airspace) over the Sea of Japan killing all 31 crew members. Also remember the US Navy very nearly lost an EP-3 Aires over the South China Sea when a Chinese fighter collided with it. Much less costly all around to lose a Global Hawk than to loose a large patrol / recce aircraft with dozens of crew members on board. Unmanned UASs can also conduct much longer patrols than manned aircraft. The aircraft itself can be built to conduct long endurance missions but the crew is going to loose their edge after 10-11 hours causing mission effectiveness to degrade pretty fast after that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Desert Tortoise (Today  04:52 am JST),

RQ-4 Global Hawk and its naval version MQ-4 Triton have no armament.

Global Hawks can be converted to armed versions quite easily, can't they?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Global Hawks can be converted to armed versions quite easily, can't they?

Nope. They fly too high to deploy most weapons anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That is One beautiful UAV DRONE :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Global Hawks can be converted to armed versions quite easily, can't they?

At the altitudes these things fly at the difference between their maximum speed and stall speed (stall in this context is when the wing stops producing lift due to insufficient airspeed) is only something like 10-20 knots. As altitude increases the air becomes thinner and the aircraft must fly faster and faster to avoid stalling the wing. At those altitudes they basically have to fly at almost their top speed or fall out of the sky. They are flying on the razors edge of control up there. U-2 pilots knew this well. No sporty maneuvers at those altitudes. Control inputs have to be buttery smooth and gradual or you stall wing and fall out of the sky. The aircraft is pretty much at max gross weight with all the fuel it carries and the sensor package. There is no margin for weapons and the drag would be too much at those altitudes. Its value is that high altitude gives it a tremendous sensor range. That's its job. There are cheaper, lower flying and more expendable UASs for shooting weapons with.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Desert Tortoise (Today  08:44 am JST),

Nope. They fly too high to deploy most weapons anyway.

If Global Hawks can't be converted to combat-ready UAVs, you have RQ-1/MQ-1 Predators that do the job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If Global Hawks can't be converted to combat-ready UAVs, you have RQ-1/MQ-1 Predators that do the job.

Those are fine against low intensity threats with no air defenses. A version of Predator will probably end up with the US Navy as a low cost ASW platform that can lay sonobuoys and use a radar to search for periscopes and probably an IR sensor to look for exhaust heat. But to go against a peer enemy with the best ground based air defenses will require a new generation of UASs now coming on line. Read up, what little is available, on the RQ-180 and the "Loyal Wingman" program. Some of the inexpensive subsonic targets used by the Air Force and Navy are proving to be able to be used for electronic warfare and in some cases carry ordnance. But even that has precedence. The big hoary old BQM-34 Firebee had several combat versions all the way back in the early 1970s. They could be used as jammers or for gathering ELINT. I still laugh when I remember CNN in Baghdad filming the wreckage of one on the banks of the Tigris River. The US shots dozens and dozens of these cheap expendable unmanned targets at Iraq to get them to light up their radars for HARM toting SEAD aircraft (EA-6, EF-111 and some F-16s and F/A-18s back then) . Once they ran out of fuel they crash where ever. That is what happened to this BQM-34. But the Iraqis were telling CNN they shot down a "US fighter" lol and were looking for the pilot.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Desert Tortoise

Global Hawks can be converted to armed versions quite easily, can't they?

Nope. They fly too high to deploy most weapons anyway. NOT TRUE!!! SEE AND TOUCH THEM EVERYDAY, Can't say more!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is no reason Japan needs them. The US has plenty of locations in the Pacific to deploy them from. The US is just as interested in having them since there is a mutual defense agreement and the US wants the Pacific presence.

Its just about money for US defense contractors.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Desert Tortoise,

Thank you for the technical explanation of the current state of affairs about UAVs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nope. They fly too high to deploy most weapons anyway. NOT TRUE!!! SEE AND TOUCH THEM EVERYDAY, Can't say more!

I just read through every publicly released contract for Global Hawk and it close cousin Triton. I also have some direct hands on with them. The only contract that was related to weaponizing them was this.

Northrop Grumman said it will upgrade external link its RQ-4 Global Hawk UAV to meet the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) requirement for a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV, equipped with a high-energy laser that could destroy an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in the boost phase. While the MDA’s HALE program requires a minimum altitude of 63,000ft and a payload capacity between 5,000-12,500lb (2,270-5,670kg), the RQ-4 currently can reach 60,000ft and can carry a 3,000lb payload, according to US Air Force specifications. Northrop officials acknowledge the 3,000lb limit but have also said the current configuration could reach a maximum payload of 4,000lb.

I was wrong about Global Hawks being controlled from Creech. They are controlled from either Beale AFB, which is also a main U-2 and once upon a time SR-71 base, or from Grand Forks AFB.

The Air Force now says that Iran shot down the one they lost in the Persian Gulf. Original speculation was its data link was spoofed but apparently the Air Force found evidence otherwise.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article only makes clear that the whole situation is a mess and people in charge of making these decisions appear not to be qualified for their jobs.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The policy change reflected "excessive consideration for Trump," the source said.

This is a confusing article. Trump is not in office now, so why the concern of angering him??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article isn’t confusing. The program was reinstated after being canceled and now the first products of that reinstatement are ready to be delivered. Their back story is relevant

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites