The Japanese ministry of defense is considering replacing several manned aircraft with unmanned platforms.
The “scrap and build” approach includes decommissioning 12 Ground Self-Defense Force AH-64D combat helicopters, 47 AH-1S anti-tank attack helicopters, and 33 OH-1 observation helicopters, Yomiuri Shimbun revealed, citing sources.
The service could have a drone unit, including attack drones, in the future, the outlet added.
In addition, the Maritime Self-Defense Force is mulling downsizing its fleet of 33 P-1 patrol aircraft and 75 SH-60K patrol helicopters.
The service plans to start deploying US-made SeaGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles on a trial basis this year at the Hachinohe air base in Aomori Prefecture.
The plan includes surveillance operations performed through a fleet of SeaGuardians in the future.
Air Self-Defense Force Fleet Decommissioning
Finally, the Air Self-Defense Force’s U-125A aircraft, used for search and rescue missions, could also be decommissioned, leaving its tasks performed by helicopters.
The development comes as Tokyo is planning to raise its defense budget by 56 percent to $318 billion over the next five years.