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LDP study group proposes Japan lead development of next-generation fighter

  • November 29, 2018
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 3
  • JMH Translation

On Nov. 28, the “LDP study group on Japan’s industrial infrastructure and the future fighter plane” drew up a proposal for Japan to lead the development of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) next-generation fighter and also export it to other countries. The study group will request Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya and others to explicitly state this in the “Medium-Term Defense Program,” which the government will revise in December.

 

The study group is composed of likeminded Liberal Democratic Party members including a former defense minister.

 

The proposal points out that “the future of [Japan’s] aviation industry will be decided by whether the nation maintains the capability to develop and produce fighter planes.” The proposal requests that the following three items be included in the Medium-Term Defense Program: (1) Japan-led development, (2) start of development by fiscal 2020, and (3) drafting of a work schedule. With an eye to recovering the development costs, it also proposes increasing the number of planes manufactured and “endeavoring to have equipment transfer with friendly nations.”

 

The proposal also points out the fighter plane “cannot be transferred to third countries, except for joint developers, based on the Three Principles on Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology.” However, Kenji Wakamiya, a former vice minister of defense and secretary-general of the study group, told reporters: “It is possible to transfer [the plane] if it is converted into a nonlethal spy plane.”

 

The ASDF currently has about 90 F-2 fighters. They are expected to be retired around 2030. Lockheed Martin Corporation of the United States and other companies have expressed interest in jointly developing the successor plane with Japan.

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