Japan’s first stealth fighter jet took its maiden flight on Friday.
The prototype, known as the ‘X-2’, is capable of evading radar detection, an indication that Japan’s concerns about China’s regional military buildup is making the country reconsider its military standpoint.
The new jet also suggests that Japan is willing to move beyond its constitutional pacifism and chart itself on a course alongside the United States.
In development for over a decade, the X-2’s premiere couldn’t come at a better time. Tensions in the East and South China Sea have created issues that even Japan barely saw coming at the beginning of the development of the fighter jet.
Japanese’s newest budget was approved alongside legislation that would allow the country to deploy troops to fight in other countries for the first time since World War II.
Despite radical recent changes within their system, Japan hinted that its soldiers would only fight abroad if the safety of their allies or their country were threatened.
In 2015 alone, Japan had to ‘scramble’ 571 times to respond to China’s incursions into its air space – but many still wonder why it is producing radar-evading aircraft, some saying it’s strange, others think it is a worrisome sign of thing to come.
The X-2 is just the beginning of a series of stealth fighters for Japan, leading the country to create more advanced systems as time moves on.
The Japanese government’s attempt to purchase several F-22 Raptors from the US turned futile when the technology in the advanced warplane was deemed unfit to export due to safety concerns. Once again, this attempt to upgrade its air force gave way to the creation of the X-2.
Mitsubishi has said that the production model of the X-2 is expected to be named the F-3. Testing on the X-2 prototype will continue through 2018 – full production of the F-3 is said to take place in 2030.
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