Tokyo: Japan’s first stealth fighter jet successfully took to the skies on Friday as the country joins a select group of world military powers wielding the radar-dodging technology. Technological super power Japan, despite strict constitutional constraints on the use of military force imposed after World War II, has one of the world’s most advanced defence forces and the development of the stealth fighter comes as it faces new security challenges in the form of China’s expanding force posture.
The domestically developed X-2 jet took off from Nagoya airport in central Japan on its maiden test flight as dozens of aviation enthusiasts watching the event erupted in applause as it lifted off into the clear morning sky. Television footage showed the red-and-white aircraft roaring into the air, escorted by two Japanese military fighters that were collecting flight data. The single-pilot prototype safely landed at Gifu air base, north of Nagoya airport, after a 25-minute flight with “no particular problems,” said an official at the defence ministry’s acquisition agency. It was an “extremely stable” flight, the pilot was quoted as saying by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the main contractor. “The control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions,” the pilot added. In another aviation milestone in November last year, Japan’s first domestically produced passenger jet, also developed by Mitsubishi Heavy, made its maiden test flight. AFP
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