(Japan News)– The first F-35A stealth fighter jet for the Air Self-Defense Force was deployed to its Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture on Friday.
Nine more units will arrive at the base by the end of March next year, to form a squadron of cutting-edge stealth jets hard to detect by radar.
For the time being, the F-35A will be used to train pilots for the aircraft and carry out educational drills, but not to perform actual missions.
In the future, the ASDF is expected to use F-35As, set to become its mainstay fighters, mainly for surveillance to prepare for North Korean ballistic missile launches and scrambles against Russian and Chinese aircraft.
The Defense Ministry plans to arm the F-35A with Norwegian-made long-range cruise missiles capable of flying 500 kilometers, enough to reach inland North Korean from over the Sea of Japan.
As this would give the nation the ability to attack enemy bases, critics say the missile plan clashes with the war-renouncing constitution.
The first F-35A, which cost ¥14 billion, was assembled at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.’s plant in Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture. It arrived at the Misawa base around 11 a.m., completing its flight from the ASDF’s Komaki base in Aichi.
F-35As “will facilitate the accomplishment of various missions, not only air defense and battle but also information-gathering, surveillance and antisurface and antiship attacks,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters.
“As the United States is also introducing F-35As, interoperability between Japan and the United States will be strengthened,” he also said.
Regarding the planned long-range cruise missiles, Onodera said the equipment would allow Japan to deal with an enemy from outside the zone exposed to a threat from the enemy.
There is a division of roles between Japan and the United States in enemy base attacks, Onodera said, adding that he expects no change at all in Japan’s reliance on the U.S. attack capabilities.Speech
Source:: Japan News