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US approves Japan for $140 million technical support for AEGIS destroyers

As the primary contractor, Lockheed Martin will service eight of Japan's destroyers

The U.S. State Department has approved the $140 million sale of follow-on technical support and services for eight of Japan’s AEGIS Destroyers, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release.

“The Government of Japan has requested to buy Follow-On Technical Support (FOTS) sustainment and services in support of eight Japan AEGIS Destroyers consisting of four KONGO Class Destroyers, two ATAGO Class Destroyers, two MAYA Class Destroyers and one Japanese Computer Test Site (JCPTS),” the Tuesday, October 1 release read.

“The sustainment efforts will include AEGIS software updates, system integration and testing, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support.”

Japan’s AEGIS Destroyers provide ship-based ballistic missile defense capabilities and build upon a longstanding cooperative effort with the U.S. to provide enhanced capability with a valued partner in a geographic region of critical importance to Japan and the U.S., the release said.

The primary contractor will be Lockheed Martin.

Japan has been expanding its military budget under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with a focus on naval and missile defense capabilities to counter China’s ambitious military strides.

Japanese defense spending is set to reach $47 billion in fiscal year 2019.

The government decided to set aside 5.26 trillion yen ($47 billion) for defense, the fifth record year in a row, defense ministry officials said late last year.

The Japanese government intends to spend $4.2 billion over the next 30 years installing and operating the Aegis Ashore land-based missile interceptor system to ramp up the island nation’s defense capabilities.

Japan’s two helicopter destroyers are also being converted to aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Japan has ordered a total of 105 of the stealth fighters, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, since its first order in 2011.

A Japanese F-35 crashed off the country’s northeast coast in April, setting off a scramble to recover the pilot and sensitive military technology before Russia or China could do so.

China unveiled its first domestically built aircraft carrier in 2017 as it continues to assert claims in the South China Sea.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained about Washington’s trade deficit with Tokyo and also urged Abe to expand the country’s defensive capacity.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has controversially sought to amend the country’s pacifist constitution, drafted by the United States in 1946.

Article 9 of Japan’s postwar constitution denies the country the right to waging war or “the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.”

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