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Politics

Japan to join bid for Thai radar system contract

Tokyo seeks to export 1st domestically produced defense equipment

Mitsubishi Electric's FPS-3 warning and control radar. The company hopes to land a contract to supply a modified version of the radar to Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Japan Air Self-Defense Force)

TOKYO -- The Japanese government is preparing to bid for a contract to supply Thailand with an air defense radar system. Landing the contract would make the system the country's first export of domestically produced defense equipment.

Export procedures are now underway for a defense radar system used by the Air Self-Defense Force after participation in the bid was given the go-ahead earlier this month by Japan's National Security Council.

Mitsubishi Electric, manufacturer of the system, will take part in the bid held by the Royal Thai Air Force as early as the end of March. Other participants are likely to include companies from the U.S. and Europe.

The winning bid is expected to be announced as early as this spring.

The deal is for radar units to be deployed in northern Thailand. Mitsubishi Electric will propose units based on FPS-3 warning and control radar used by the ASDF, modifying them as per Thai requests. The RTAF plans to gradually replace its aging radar system, and at least ten units will be needed.

Each unit is expected to cost between 1 billion yen and 2 billion yen ($9.36 million to $18.72 million).

"Winning the bid will help us secure more orders in the future," said a senior official of the Japan's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency.

The ASDF started using the FPS-3 in 1991. The radar features two antennas capable of detecting fighters and ballistic missiles, and are highly capable of tracking fighters.

Seven of the radars are currently operating in Japan.

In 2014, the Japanese cabinet approved three principles regarding transfer of defense equipment. The move lifted the ban on the export of arms and related technologies on condition that, among other requirements, the exports would "serve the country's national security." 

The National Security Council approved participation in the bidding after taking into account the defensive nature of the system and the expected benefits as regards international cooperation and Japan's security.

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