Japan eyes using existing jet fighters due to delay over new ones
Sunday 08th August, 02:44 PM JST
The Japanese government has decided to retool its current main F-15 jet fighters or buy more F-2 jets, given the delay in development of the F-35 that it is hoping to procure as its main next generation fighter, government sources said Sunday. Either option, however, is expected to create a headache for defense officials, while the government could face criticism that Japan’s air defense capability might be undermined in the interim.
In 2004, the cabinet endorsed a five-year defense buildup plan through 2009 that included procurement of seven next-generation fighters to succeed the F-4 planes that are set to be retired sometime during the 2010s. The government was considering picking a model by spring 2008 and budgeting funds starting in fiscal 2009.
Initially, the government explored the possibility of acquiring for the Air Self-Defense Force the F-22 fighter, which has stealth capability to escape radar detection, supersonic speed and advanced mobility, but the United States, which manufactures the plane, has banned its export.