May 19 (UPI) -- Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force will receive new rifles for the first time since 1989 to defend the country's southwestern islands, Japanese media reported this week.
The rifles, are called Type 20 assault rifles because they were produced in Fiscal 2020, were unveiled Monday at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo.
The new rifles are said to be more water-resistant and built for use in amphibious operations on the Nansei Islands, where the GDSF has recently been shifting troops, reportedly in response to increased naval actions by China in the island chain, which stretches about 745 miles om the Osumi islands in Kagoshima Prefecture to Yonagunijima island in Okinawa Prefecture.
The new rifles were made by Howa Machinery Limited, which also manufactured the Type 89 rifles the GDSF received 31 years ago, as part of a competitive bidding process.
The government will spend about $8.3 million to buy 3,000 of the rifles this year -- or $2,600 each.
Troops are expected to receive the rifles in fiscal 2021.