| The NHK broadcast on Thursday that the Japanese government plans to demand 5.55 trillion yen, which is an increase of 3.5 percent year-on-year, for its 2015 defense budget. This is the highest amount ever and is the third consecutive increase. Experts believe that defense spending competition in Northeast Asia will intensify even further.
According to the report, the demand for next year`s bigger defense budget will contain the expenses to purchase 20 units of new Japanese-manufactured patrol jets P-1 to deploy in the Nakdo area, including the Senkaku Islands (Chinese name Diaoyudao), over which Japan is currently in the middle of a territorial dispute with China. Expected are amphibious vehicles to reclaim the Nakdo area and drone Global Hawk as well as next-generation Stealth fighter jets F-35 and the Osprey, which is capable of both a vertical takeoff and landing. In addition are repair expenses to repair the J-Marine base.
In particular, Japan plans to reflect some 40 billion yen in next year뭩 budget as expenses to develop for a completely Japan-made fighter jet with Stealth capabilities. The development of a completely Japan-made fighter jet has been a long-time aspiration of the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
According to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, to develop a Japanese fighter jet that can compete with the latest U.S. and European fighter jets, the Japanese government plans to mount a test engine in January 2015 and hold its first flight performance test. Three months later, it also plans to conduct Stealth configuration tests to enhance Stealth functions, which will render it undetected by enemy radars. The Stealth fighter jet F-35, which is jointly developed by nine countries including the U.S. and the U.K, boasts the capability of going undetected except as objects 10 centimeters in diameter on the radar. The Japanese government thereafter plans to collaborate with Japanese defense companies including IHI and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to complete an engine that can be used in light and powerful field operations.
Expenses required to complete manufacture of Japanese fighter jets are projected to reach 500 billion yen to 800 billion yen. Adding the expenses necessary for test flights, actual expense will increase further, which the medium reported would pose a considerable burden to government finances.
Yet Japan is pushing the development of its domestically-made fighter jets as even if it fails, it can occupy a more advantageous position in international joint development of jets and negotiations in importing overseas fighters. Japan set out to develop home-grown fighter jets in the 1980s but at the time the U.S. expressed dislike of the project, and Japan had to settle for joint development of the F-2 fighter jets with the U.S. The F-2 jet stopped production in 2011 and will stop being deployed in 2028.
Prior to that, China has successfully test-operated stealth fighters J-20 and J-31 in 2011 and 2012, which it developed on its own. Korea is currently pushing the KF-X project to develop Korean-made next-generation fighter jet with Stealth functions.