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Japan seeks attack drones in record $40bn defense budget request

Hypersonic weapons research, long-range missiles on Tokyo's priority list

An MQ-9 Reaper drone flies by during a training mission at a U.S. Air Force base.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Combat drones, research on hypersonic weapons and mass production of long-range missiles are on the Japanese Defense Ministry's wish list in its record 5.59 trillion yen ($40.7 billion) budget request for fiscal 2023.

The ministry aims to introduce unmanned vehicles that can be used directly in combat, rather than just for surveillance and intelligence gathering. It sees the speedy acquisition and introduction of such drones as necessary to gain an edge in combat while minimizing human casualties. The ministry conveyed its plans to lawmakers from Japan's ruling coalition Monday.

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