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Politics

Japan eyes acquiring 3 Global Hawk spy drones in FY 2015

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Defense Ministry plans to acquire three Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance jets during the fiscal year from next April, with the Air Self-Defense Force's Misawa base in Japan's northeast being a strong candidate for their host, government officials said Thursday.

     The ministry intends to request roughly 100 billion yen in the budget for the new fiscal year, including the money for ground facilities needed to remotely pilot the spy planes, according to the officials.

     A senior ministry official told a House of Councillors committee the same day that the ministry intends to request the acquisition cost in the budget for the next fiscal year and that it has already sealed a deal with the U.S. Defense Department to obtain information on the drones' performance and operations.

     The Global Hawk, which can carry out reconnaissance missions at the high altitude of over 15,000 meters, sends images and other types of intelligence to the ground via satellite.

     The ministry therefore plans to consider with its U.S. counterpart securing the use of satellite to operate the drones, according to the officials.

     The ministry secured about 200 million yen in the budget for the current fiscal year from April to research the possibility of acquiring the drones.

     The U.S. military began deploying two Guam-based Global Hawk aircraft to the Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture in May. The base is jointly used by the ASDF and the U.S. military.

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