|Japan's F-2 fighter aircraft|
Japan's Military Build-Up
Japan is considering building its own fighter jets after years of playing second fiddle in a US construction partnership, a report said Thursday, in a move likely to stoke fears of its military resurgence among Asian neighbors.
Japan's attempt in the 1980s to build its first purely domestic fighters since World War II faced US resistance and resulted in joint US-Japan development and production of the F-2, the Nikkei newspaper said.
But joint F-2 production ended more than two years ago and the last of the fighters are due to be retired from Japan's air defence force around 2028, it added reports Agence France-Presse.
The defence ministry plans to seek about 40 billion yen ($387 million) in state funding for the next year starting in April 2015 to test experimental engines and radar-dodging stealth airframe designs for a purely Japanese fighter, the report said.
According to its medium-term defence programme, the Tokyo government will decide by the 2018 financial year whether to go ahead with the all-Japanese fighter project.
There is a growing need for Japan to develop a long-haul, highly stealthy fighter jets in face of China's increasing assertiveness in the East China Sea, where the two countries are locked in a dispute over a group of Tokyo-controlled islands, the Nikkei said.
Beijing regularly warns of what it says is Tokyo's intent to re-arm on the quiet, saying selective amnesia about its World War II behaviour means it cannot be trusted to have a fully-fledged military.
Last month the cabinet of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe loosened the bonds on Japan's military -- proclaiming the right to go into battle in defence of allies -- in a highly controversial shift in the nation's post-war pacifist stance.
Japan denies its intent is anything other than defensive, and hits back that Beijing's opaque military spending and its burgeoning ambitions are the real danger.
Japan Military Heavy Tanks and
Armored Vehicle Firepower 2014
|Japan's launches their largest warship|
In August, 2013 Japan unveiled the biggest warship since World War II, sparking concerns about the country's military buildup as observers said the vessel is actually an aircraft carrier.
Analysts believed that the upgraded warships in Japan and the Philippines are efforts to gain an upper hand in maritime disputes with China, as well as a catalyst igniting an arms race that would escalate regional tensions.
The Japanese-built carrier has a displacement of around 20,000 tons. It can accommodate 14 helicopters and will play a major role in disaster and rescue missions, as well as defend sea passages and Japanese territory, according to Japan's defense ministry.
But it is much larger than many countries' aircraft carriers in terms of displacement and deck length, and it can be easily and swiftly refitted to support F35-B fighters.
The vessel was named Izumo, the same name as the flagship of the Japanese fleet that invaded China in the 1930s. Tokyo likely intentionally chose the date of the vessel's debut — the 68th anniversary of the US dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima — to woo public support for the government's military ambitions by taking advantage of sentiments about the attack.
See more at GB Times.