The US and Japan have agreed to base several Global Hawk UAVs in Japan for the first time, as part of a sweeping new defense agreement announced Oct. 3. (US Air Force) (Staff Sgt. Andy M. Kin)
WASHINGTON — During a diplomatic visit to Tokyo this week, US officials confirmed that the Japanese government has agreed to base “two to three” American-operated Global Hawk UAVs on Japanese soil beginning early next year.
The deployments of the unmanned aircraft “will not be year-round,” a senior administration official said. “It’ll be a seasonal deployment, but they'll be flying out of a US base in Japan for a period of the year.”
It will be the first time that US unmanned assets are based on Japanese soil, but the announcement was only one part of a sweeping defense cooperation effort between the two countries that will also include F-35 joint strike fighters, new ballistic missile radars, and increased bilateral cyber and ISR programs.
The moves kick off an emerging era of increased US and Japanese military cooperation that included joint training operations earlier this year in California and a program to share the costs of moving 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam sometime in the next decade.
The Japanese government has agreed to contribute about $3.1 billion to support the move to Guam.
In an Oct. 3 statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Fumio Kishida and Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera, the two governments also agreed to base two US Marine Corps MV-22 squadrons in Okinawa to replace CH-46 helicopters, as well as deploying US Navy P-8 maritime patrol aircraft beginning in December.
The Marines will also begin to deploy their F-35B aircraft in 2017, marking the first forward deployment of the aircraft outside of the United States.
The “2+2” meeting, which marked the first time that the American and Japanese diplomatic and military chiefs met together in Tokyo also kicked off the official effort to rewrite the US-Japanese defense guidelines, the first time since 1997 that the document will be updated.
The new guidelines are expected to be completed by the end of 2014, Kishida said.
Hagel added that as the discussions over the defense guidelines continue, “we will identify new technologies and capabilities that we will need to meet emerging security challenges, including those in space and cyberspace. Cyber cooperation in particular has emerged as a focus area for the alliance,” and the two sides also pledged to establish a Cyber Working Group to begin to share information.
There is also a Defense ISR Working Group being established to look at more possibilities for cooperation there.
The allies also want to beef up their missile defense cooperation, which should be good news to US defense companies like Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, which are looking to expand international opportunities for their radar and missile business segments.
The memo released by the two governments today underlined ballistic missile defense capabilities as a key element going forward, and for the first time established a location for the second ballistic missile defense radar at the Air Self-Defense Force base at Kyogamisaki.