A group from the main governing Liberal Democratic Party has suggested that Japan should start developing its next fighter jet within 2 years. It calls on the government to consider taking the initiative in the expected multilateral development of such an aircraft.
Members of the group, including former defense minister Yasukazu Hamada, compiled the proposal. The new fighter will succeed the Air-Self Defense Force's F-2 aircraft. Retiring the country's current 92 F-2 fighters will begin in the 2030s.
The group says the ASDF lags behind China and Russia in terms of fighter jet numbers, and that Japan needs to secure technical superiority to defend itself.
But it points out that the country's defense industry is in a difficult state due to reduced demand, as the Self-Defense Forces are increasing their reliance on US-made equipment.
The members urged the government to consider as an option that Japan take the initiative in the development of the next fighter jet, which is expected to be undertaken through international cooperation.
They call for utilizing domestic-made high-performance engines and compound materials technology as well as taking the lead in the development of software for piloting and combat situations.
The group apparently made the suggestion in light of the joint Japan-US development of the F-2 fighter, which was effectively led by the US.
The group says the development should start no later than fiscal 2020.
Its members plan to make adjustments to their proposal after conferring with experts, and present it to the government soon.
The Japanese government is currently drawing up a mid-term defense program for the next 5 years.