If deemed necessary to deter the China threat, Japan could also go nuclear within three months.
Japan is closing in on becoming the fourth nation to test fly its own stealth jet, a move that could further antagonize neighboring Asian countries that oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to strengthen the role of the Self-Defense Forces.
The aircraft is scheduled to make its maiden flight within the first three months of next year, Hirofumi Doi, a program manager at the Defense Ministry, said in an interview in Tokyo. The plane, called Advanced Technology Demonstrator X, will then be handed over to the SDF, which will start conducting its own tests, he said.
The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.-made plane builds on Abe’s military ambitions after he succeeded in pushing through U.S.-endorsed legislation to allow Japanese forces to fight in overseas conflicts, despite concerns voiced abroad and at home. Japanese militarism is a particularly sensitive topic for China and South Korea because of the aggression they endured before and during World War II.
“The security environment around Japan is becoming increasingly complex and Japan needs to maintain air capabilities commensurate to those of other air forces in the region,” said Rukmani Gupta, an analyst in New Delhi at IHS Jane’s. “Should the ATD-X test be deemed successful, it is very likely that Japan will pursue production of a next-generation fighter.”
“We’re building this in preparation for the development of a new fighter jet,” Doi said. “Neighboring countries are developing stealth jets and so this research is to allow us to understand what technology is needed for such a project.”
Full article: Japan preparing to test-fly MHI-built stealth jet (The Japan Times)