Japan to Buy More Stealth Jets, Radar to Counter China, Russia

Japan says the secretive expansion of China’s military footprint creates “strong concerns” in the region

Russian Federation says it is perturbed by Japan's roll-out of the Aegis Ashore US missile system, part of Japan's defence plans to counter China, North Korea and Russian Federation.

If retrofitted, the Izumo-class ships will become Japan's first aircraft carriers since the end of World War II.

Japan is poised to put its first aircraft carriers to sea since World War II, refitting its Izumo-class warships to carry US-designed F-35B fighter jets, the government announced Tuesday.

The five-year plan approved Tuesday assumes record defence spending of 27.47 trillion yen (US$244 billion) through March 2024. The 105 jets will include 42 F-35B aircraft, which have short take-off and vertical landing capabilities and have not yet been deployed in Japan.

Kongdan Oh, an analyst at the Institute for Defense Analyses, who led efforts to rewrite U.S. -Japan military guidelines in 2015, told The Independent that increased militarization was an "unavoidable evolution", despite being a step "away from the image of pacifism". Buying more American weapons, however, would be a setback for Japan's defence industry and its hopes to develop its own replacement of F-2 fighter jets are uncertain.

Buying American military equipment via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program allows the procurement of stat-of-the-art items but prices and delivery timing are essentially dictated by Washington, and thus tend to be expensive.

Japan says the secretive expansion of China's military footprint creates "strong concerns" in the region.

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The program includes a plan to purchase a total of 18 fighter jets apparently to put them on Izumo-class carriers and install two USA -developed land-based Aegis missile systems to counter the North Korean nuclear and missile threat. The guidelines said Japan will seek more cost-efficient purchase of advance-capability US equipment, while pushing for more joint research and development. The refitting of another helicopter carrier into a second aircraft carrier would follow.

Abe is also under pressure from US President Donald Trump to buy more US military equipment.

"What Japan is doing here is not conducive to improving and developing China-Japan relations, nor to the broader picture of regional peace and stability", she said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at news conference on Tuesday that Japan is inciting threats from China by making baseless criticism of normal acts of defense and military activity.

A senior Defence Ministry official told foreign journalists in a briefing that there "seems to be a certain degree of misunderstanding" in recent reports by both domestic and global media that Japan was turning offensive.

A US F-35B fighter jet lands aboard amphibious assault ship Wasp during an exercise in the western Pacific.

The guidelines also called for setting up a unit specializing in space, cyberattacks and electronic warfare, while integrating the ground maritime and air forces to better co-ordinate operations. These will likely take the form of vertical-takeoff-and-landing UAS for operations onboard a new class of eight multipurpose destroyers Japan is now building.

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