Tag Archives: Japan

Japan wants its own early-warning planes: report

By on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Japan’s defence ministry wants to develop its own early-warning aircraft, replacing US-made planes as the Chinese and Russian air forces grow more assertive, a report said Sunday.

The ministry has asked for an initial 80 million yen ($642,000) from the finance ministry for the next fiscal year starting April to produce a mock aircraft, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

It said that military planners want to complete the development program for planes featuring advanced surveillance radar by the mid-2020s, to replace Japan’s US-made E-2C Hawkeye planes, which are based on a 1960s design.

Japan says it scrambled fighter jets more than 800 times in the last fiscal year to shadow intruding aircraft, mostly from China and Russia. That was the highest number of deployments since the final year of the Cold War in 1989.

Fears of a military clash have heightened since China last November declared an “air defence identification zone” over the East China Sea, which overlaps a similar Japanese zone and covers territory disputed by the two countries.

Sunday’s report comes after Japan lifted a self-imposed ban on weapons exports, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks to expand the country’s diplomatic and military reach after a long period of economic stagnation.

Defence ministry officials could not be reached to comment on the report.

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Japan Unveils Stealth Fighter Test Bed

By on Monday, August 25th, 2014

Japan will begin test flights next year to determine whether the country has the right stuff to build a fighter jet without relying on Western contractors.

The Ministry of Defense plans to seek around 40 billion yen ($384 million) in funding for the effort for the fiscal year starting next April.

The government will decide by fiscal 2018 whether to proceed with the development of a purely Japanese fighter, according to its latest medium-term defense program.

Production of the F-2, a fighter jointly by Japan and the U.S., ended in fiscal 2011. The last of the jets are expected to be retired from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force around fiscal 2028.

To gauge the feasibility of creating an indigenous fighter, the ministry’s Technical Research & Development Institute began work on the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) four years ago. Researchers have made progress in a number of areas, including lightweight airframe designs and missile-firing mechanisms.

The ATD-X is slated for its first flight using stand-in engines next January. Testing of stealth airframe designs is to begin in April. Prototyping of the actual engines — a joint effort by IHI, Mitsubishi Heavy and other defense contractors — is to start as soon as fiscal 2015 and take about five years. Heat-resistant ceramics, an area in which Japan excels, will be employed for the turbine blades.

Creating a fighter jet of its own will prove fiscally as well as technically demanding for Japan. Initial costs are estimated at 500 billion yen to 800 billion yen, but test flights and the development of ancillary equipment will likely add significantly to the total.

Even if Japan takes a pass on the end result, the defense ministry reckons that possessing its own fighter technology will work to the country’s advantage in joining multinational arms development programs and negotiating to buy other countries’ fighters.

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Japan to test first homegrown stealth fighter jet: report

By on Thursday, August 14th, 2014

A group of major Japanese firms are planning a test flight next year for the nation’s first homegrown stealth fighter jet, a report said Tuesday.

The consortium — led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries — is developing a jet that has similar technology to US-made F-35 stealth fighters, with a prototype set for a test run in January, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said.

About 39.2 billion yen ($384 million) has been invested in the project, said the report, which did not cite sources.

Following the initial flight, the jet will undergo about two years of testing at the defence ministry with Tokyo set to decide on whether to buy the plane by early 2019, it added.

The story could not be immediately confirmed.

Japan, which sees a security alliance with the United States as a cornerstone of its foreign policy, has long depended on US manufacturers for military hardware.

But the conservative government has been looking to expand Japan’s military influence, and has relaxed a self-imposed ban on weapons exports.

Last month, Tokyo loosened the bonds on Japan’s powerful military, proclaiming the right to go into battle in defence of allies, in a highly controversial shift for the officially pacifist country.

The development of a homegrown jet comes amid worsening tensions with Beijing over rival claims to islands in the East China Sea.

Japan said last month that its military scrambled fighter jets a record 340 times in the three months to June in response to feared intrusions on its airspace.

Chinese government ships and planes have been seen off the disputed islands dozens of times since Japan nationalised some of the archipelago nearly two years ago.

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Japan to launch military space force: report

By on Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Japan is planning to launch a military space force by 2019 that would initially be tasked with protecting satellites from dangerous debris orbiting the Earth, a report said.

The move is aimed at strengthening Japan-US cooperation in space, and comes after the countries pledged to boost joint work on monitoring space debris, Kyodo news agency said Sunday.

Japan would provide the US military with information obtained by the force as part of the joint bid to strengthen ties in space, the so-called “fourth battlefield”, Kyodo said, citing unnamed sources.

Japan’s defence ministry is looking at creating the new force using personnel from the Air Self-Defence Force, the country’s air force, it added.

The unit would acquire radar and telescope facilities, jointly with the science ministry and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, to run its observatory operations, Kyodo said.

Thousands of pieces of debris — including old satellites as well as pieces of rockets and other space equipment — are orbiting the Earth and threaten to collide with functioning communications and reconnaissance satellites.

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Japan gives Vietnam six ships to boost maritime patrols

Japan said Friday it would give Vietnam six vessels to boost the communist country’s capacity to patrol its territorial waters, amid a bitter maritime dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea.

The deal for the six used vessels, worth 500 million yen ($5 million), was announced in Hanoi during a two-day visit by Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida aimed at deepening bilateral ties.

“We hope this will help strengthen the maritime law enforcement capability of Vietnam,” Kishida said at a press briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh.

Relations between Vietnam and neighboring China plummeted to their worst point in decades in early May after Beijing moved a deep-water oil drilling rig into waters in the South China Sea claimed by Vietnam.

China withdrew the rig mid-July, a month earlier than initially expected, claiming it had successfully completed the drilling mission.

While the rig was in place, there were repeated skirmishes between dozens of Chinese and Vietnamese vessels around the rig.

Hanoi accused Beijing of ramming and sinking one of its wooden fishing vessels. Beijing denied the allegation, blaming intrusions by Hanoi’s fishing fleet for the incident.

The rig’s deployment also triggered a wave of violent anti-China demonstrations and riots in Vietnam, which saw some foreign-invested factories vandalised and set on fire.

Japan and China are also locked in a bitter dispute over small, uninhabited islands in the East China Sea called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese.

Tokyo took control of the islands in January 1895, when it says they were unoccupied. Beijing counters they have always been its “inherent” territory.

“Both Vietnam and Japan agree on maintaining peace and stability in the East China Sea and East Sea,” Fumio said.

East Sea is the Vietnamese name for the South China Sea.

He said disputes must be settled “in accordance with international law (and) by peaceful means”.

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Naval ships from US, India and Japan to start war games

The United States, India and Japan are set to kick off week-long war games in the Pacific, beefing up naval ties as they warily eye an increasingly assertive China and its military buildup.

Warships from the three countries are to begin the joint exercises on Friday, after an official opening ceremony at the Sasebo Naval Base in southern Japan on Thursday.

Known as the Malabar Exercise, the annual event usually involves India and the US, but Japan’s Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) will take part this year, the third time since 2007.

The exercises off Japan’s southern coast come on the back of rising regional tensions as Delhi and Tokyo remain embroiled in territorial spats with Beijing.

China is also at loggerheads with some Southeast Asian nations over its claim to large swathes of the South China Sea.

Washington has been increasingly turning its focus to Asia as it looks to counter Beijing’s growing influence and a military buildup that has unnerved some of its regional neighbours.

“India, Japan and the United States have a shared strategic interest,” said international relations expert Takehiko Yamamoto, professor emeritus at Tokyo’s Waseda University.

“The aim of this naval exercise is for (the three countries) to manage a vast sea area stretching from the western Pacific to the Indian Ocean.

“They need to make sure the lines of communication stay robust — this exercise has China in mind,” he added.

India is nervous about the so-called “string of pearls”, the concept of a network of ports around the Indian Ocean to which China’s navy would have access, Yamamoto said.

“For India, this is a great threat,” he said.

Growing ties
The manoeuvres also reflect growing ties between India and Japan, on both the military and economic fronts, with Japanese Prime Minister making an official visit to Delhi in January — when the two nations agreed to “further strengthen” their defence cooperation and conduct regular naval exercises.

The July 25-30 exercises will include three Indian ships, a frigate, a destroyer and a supply ship, along with 700-800 personnel, Indian navy spokesman DK Sharma told AFP.

Sharma said the exercises would include anti-piracy, anti-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and helicopter drills.

“We just concluded… our naval drills with Russia, and since we have already traveled thousands of miles to that side, it’s only natural that Japan will participate in the Malabar Exercise,” he said.

The US Seventh Fleet, which covers the western Pacific and Indian Ocean, will take part in the war games while Japan is dispatching two escort ships, one US-2 search-and-rescue amphibious plane and one P3C patrol plane, said an MSDF spokesman.

He said several hundred Japanese personnel would take part.

“The purpose of Japan’s participation is to improve the strategic capabilities of the MSDF and to strengthen the cooperation among the three militaries,” he added.

China has lashed out at Abe after his cabinet formally endorsed a reinterpretation of Japan’s pacifist constitution banning the use of armed force except in very narrowly-defined circumstances.

Beijing argued that it could open the door to remilitarization of a country it considers insufficiently penitent for its actions in World War II.

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Japan, Britain to launch joint missile research: report

By on Friday, July 18th, 2014

Japan and Britain are to jointly develop missile technology for fighter jets, while Tokyo may also start exporting Japanese-made parts for US surface-to-air missiles, a report said Thursday.

The plan — which comes months after Japan lifted a self-imposed ban on weapons exports — was likely to be approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet at a meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday, the Mainichi Shimbun reported, without citing sources.

The joint research with Britain was linked to a European missile project called Meteor, while the parts exports would be destined for Washington’s Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) missile defence system, the report said.

If approved, the US exports would be the first since Japan in April approved a new policy that replaces its 1967 blanket ban on shipping arms overseas, the Mainichi said.

Under the new rules, weapon sales are still banned to conflict-plagued countries or nations that could undermine international peace and security, and they must contribute to international peace and boost pacifist Japan’s security.

Responding to questions about the Mainichi report, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government’s top spokesman, said: “I’m aware of the report but I don’t know the specifics.”

The Meteor project, which is developing missiles for Eurofighter planes, is being led by Franco-British missile maker Matra BAe Dynamics (MBD) along with other European firms.

An earlier report this month by the leading Nikkei business daily said Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plans to export a high-performance sensor to the United States for its PAC-2 missile defence system.

The sensor is a key component of an infrared device at the tip of the missile that identifies and tracks targets, the Nikkei said.

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