Defense Agency to equip SDF base with hangars for refueling aircraft

The Defense Agency has called for a budget for refueling aircraft hangars for the Self-Defense Forces, with a plan to designate the sites of hangars within this year. The agency will draw up a rough budget estimate for FY 2004 within August.

The government decided to introduce mid-air refueling aircraft in the mid-term defense buildup program (FY 2001-FY 2005) by which the Air SDF coverage will be drastically extended allowing overseas dispatch of SDF fighters.

Of the four refueling aircraft to be introduced, a budget for the first one was appropriated in FY 2002, and for the second (24.7 billion yen=100 million dollars) in FY 2003. The first one is expected to be in use in 2006.

The first joint training between Air SDF F-15 fighters and U.S. forces KC135 refueling aircraft took place in April 2003 in the Kyushu region. ASDF fighters also took part in a similar training program in Alaska in June.

Akahata of August 14 warned of the increased danger in detailed steps being taken to introduce refueling aircraft when the government is scheming to dispatch SDF units overseas to support U.S. wars. (end)

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