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Govt eyes inclusion of F-35B order in new defense guidelines

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government presented a draft of the new National Defense Program Guidelines, which are scheduled to be formulated in mid-December, to an expert panel on security on Wednesday.

Based on discussions by the Advisory Panel on Security and Defense Capabilities, the government is plotting a course to introduce state-of-the-art F-35B stealth fighters and convert the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Izumo-class destroyer into an aircraft carrier.

During the meeting, the government stressed that the security environment surrounding Japan has become much more severe and uncertain than that assumed when the current defense program guidelines were drawn up.

The F-35 fighters include the A type, which takes off and lands on regular runways, and the B type, capable of taking off on short runways and conducting vertical landings. Compared with the A type, the B variant can be used at airports with short runways, although it has drawbacks such as a shorter flight range.

As model selection has not been finalized, the new defense program guidelines may only include the planned introduction of “short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft.”

The government is considering replacing some of the SDF’s about 200 F-15 fighters, whose performance would be difficult to improve, with F-35 jets. The F-15 is currently the nation’s primary fighter aircraft. In addition to the A-type units, which have already been introduced, the government intends to introduce the B-type units and add 80 to 100 F-35 fighters in total.

The government also plans to stipulate a plan to make the Izumo-class destroyer more versatile. The aim is to upgrade the Izumo-class destroyer to enable takeoffs and landings by fighter jets so that the F-35B fighters can be mobilized in the event of an emergency.

In the defense program guidelines, the government also intends to call for strengthening defense capabilities in the new security areas of outer space, cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as measures to defend remote islands. It also plans to seek the integrated operations of the three branches of the Self-Defense Forces.Speech

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