With Finance Ministry officials lurking in the background, hawkish lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party continue to battle the Defense Ministry over development of the next-generation fighter jet to replace the F-2.
The LDP lawmakers’ initial plan to have development conducted entirely by Japanese companies was scrapped because of expected high costs and possible engineering pitfalls.
But they have not given up the fight, and are now arguing that Japanese companies should play a leading role in any joint development of the new fighter jet.
However, Finance Ministry officials want to keep spending under control no matter what decision is made on the development project.
The F-2 was jointly developed with the United States and first deployed in fiscal 2000. The shelf life of the fighters is expected to expire around 2030.
The Defense Ministry initially had three options for the next-generation fighter jet: to fully develop it domestically; to develop it jointly with other nations; or to extend the life of the F-2 through various modifications.
The third option was jettisoned because modifications alone would not obtain the required capabilities.
As for full domestic development, Finance Ministry officials said it would be too expensive.
That left joint development as the course taken by the Defense Ministry, but the LDP members are not taking that decision lying down. (end of excerpt)
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