24 August 2017

News Story: Price spike sparked defense ministry struggle over Global Hawk drone - internal docs

The Ministry of Defense considered cancelling the purchase of Global Hawk reconnaissance drones after maker Northrop Grumman Corp. bumped up the projected cost by 23 percent from the initial 2014 estimate, according to internal ministry documents revealed on Aug. 21 by the Japanese Communist Party (JCP).

The Air Self-Defense Force plans to introduce the three drones in 2020 or beyond. However, according to the two documents presented by JCP secretariat head Akira Koike, the manufacturer boosted the total price by some 12 billion yen (about $109 million) this year because production for the U.S. military has ended and replacement parts need to be developed for the Japanese drones. Furthermore, "if the supply of spare parts is exhausted, total costs could easily rise by more than 25 percent," one of the documents states. The ministry is obliged to re-evaluate equipment purchases if the estimated cost rises by 15 percent or more.

Furthermore, if the internal documents -- one dated June 28 and the other in July -- are genuine and were leaked, the ministry's document management will once more come into question, following the cover-up of daily reports from Japan's peacekeeping unit in South Sudan.

Read the full story at The Mainichi