Japan plans to design unmanned drones capable of flying to support government fighter jets to improve its airspace defenses and fend off threats. The drones will be developed in association with the United States so that the two countries can work more closely together.
These drones are used to detect enemy aircraft and missiles faster. Government officials are also considering installing missiles on drones to intercept missiles fired by adversaries
The government plans to build an air combat prototype in fiscal 2025. The drones will then be completed after fiscal 2026.
Drones are being hailed as revolutionary, changing the nature of fighting in Ukraine. The Kyiv army used drones to attack Russian ships as part of the war.
Along with Europe, China, and the United States, Japan is scrambling to build remote-controlled drones, believing they will become an integral part of air warfare.
The drones will be supplied with manufactured intelligence (AI) and will fly autonomously in front of fighter jets. The drones take orders from a pilot or a remote command center and will fly based on an AI analysis of the environment and weather conditions.
The Japan Self-Defence Force already has drones like the US Global Hawk, but they are only used for surveillance, not combat. Currently, the country has not deployed drones that fly with fighter jets, according to the Defense Ministry.
The government of Japan is working on an all-new fighter jet that will substitute the F-2 and hopes to field it by 2035. Drones will support these new aircraft. 2035 is the timetable for the modernization of China’s military. So Japan is working to improve its ability to allow manned and unmanned aircraft to work together.
The U.S. military believes China may be preparing to seize Taiwan, which it claims as its territory, by force in 2027. In this case, the Japanese air defense system that relies on drones will not be able to enter into service in time. Currently, Japan intends to enhance security by conducting joint exercises using MQ9 drones, and the U.S. military will be temporarily stationed in Japan during the summer. The MQ9 unmanned aerial vehicle used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Syria can also perform offensive missions.
Drones are a great way to gain an edge in air combat. It can also fly in difficult-to-reach places for fighter jets. They also lighten the burden on pilots. Compared with China and other countries, Japan has relatively few SDF personnel.
Do you use artificial intelligence to make decisions about human life?
Unmanned aerial operations will be the primary means of air combat in the coming years. Joint development by Japan and the United States will foster better interoperability.
The government wants Japanese companies to take the lead in easing adjustments to equipment aid to help Japan maintain its defense industry. They are also working with the United States to develop a successor to the currently fielded F-2 fighter jet.
The manned fighter jets cost 10 billion yen ($77 million) each. The cost of an unmanned flight is much cheaper.
Regarding the number of drones deployed, one suggestion is to keep the same number as the F-2 fighter jets.
The world has raised ethical concerns about the usage of unnatural intelligence in decisions that affect people’s lives. In this case, the Department of Defense wants to ensure that people are the only ones making decisions about drones.
Japan counts China and Russia as neighbors, and each has amassed troops. The increasing number of uprisings by the Air Self-Defense Forces has shown this. In addition, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has raised concerns that some countries are trying to use force to change the status quo in Asia.
Japan’s move to develop unmanned drones is a game-changer and will change the way combat is fought. It also pointed to the need for Japan to improve its air defense systems.
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