Japan to Lift Export Restrictions on F-X Fighter Jet in Joint Partnership with UK, Italy

Japan's Cabinet plans to approve easing export restrictions on the F-X fighter jet later this month.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 10:57 AM, March 19, 2024
  • 555
Japan to Lift Export Restrictions on F-X Fighter Jet in Joint Partnership with UK, Italy
F-2 Support Fighter

The Japanese government is poised to greenlight the export of a stealth fighter jet, currently under development in collaboration with the United Kingdom and Italy.

The decision to ease export restrictions comes as part of Japan’s endeavor to loosen stringent post-war export regulations targeting weaponry. Last year, Japan approved the transfer of radars to the Philippines and the delivery of Patriot missiles to the United States, signaling a departure from its historically strict stance on arms exports.

In December of last year, Japan, alongside the United Kingdom and Italy, embarked on a joint partnership to develop the Mitsubishi F-X fighter jet under the Global Combat Air Program. The initiative aims to produce new stealth fighter jets by 2035, intended to replace the aging F-2s of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, as well as the Eurofighter Typhoons utilized by Britain and Italy.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida addressed the Diet – Japan’s parliament – on Wednesday, emphasizing that easing export restrictions on the F-X fighter jet is essential for the success of the international joint development program and crucial for Japan’s aircraft modernization plan. Kishida asserted that the move will foster a more favorable security environment for Japan while also bolstering the domestic defense industry.

However, the decision faced opposition from dissenting parties, including Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Despite initial resistance, Komeito softened its stance after months of negotiations, agreeing to the change under stringent conditions.

According to a joint news conference held on Friday, the revision will solely cover the F-X fighter jet. Additionally, all fighter jet exports will require Cabinet approval, restricting access only to countries with existing defense agreements with Japan. Furthermore, sales to countries involved in ongoing armed conflicts will be prohibited.

The Cabinet is expected to approve the revisions later this month, coinciding with the anticipated release of the initial designs of the F-X jet by the joint partners.

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