Japan has announced plans to build one of the world's most sophisticated stealth jet fighters, likely a twin-engine aircraft designed to take over the country's critical air defense role sometime in the next decade, Brad Lendon reported for CNN in the afternoon of July 10, 2020.

News of Japan's fighter development comes as the US State Department approved the sale of more than 100 US F-35 fighter jets to Japan. The sale would consist of 63 F-35A jets, which take off from runways, and 42 F-35B jets, which require a short takeoff roll and can land vertically. Those would be used on Japanese helicopter destroyers, essentially small aircraft carriers it will upgrade to handle the F-35Bs.

The Ministry of Defense this week told members of the Diet, the country's parliament, that the new sixth-generation fighters would begin production in fiscal year 2031 and replace the country's aging fleet of almost 100 F-2 jets, single-engine fourth-generation fighters modeled after American F-16s, according to Japan's national broadcaster NHK News.

The country's fiscal 2020 defense budget said more than $261 million (28 billion yen) had been set aside for the program, known as the F-X, including money to develop drones that could operate with the stealth jets, a technology also being developed in Australia and the US Other features touted by Japan's Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Agency (ALTA) which could be expected to be featured in the new jet are: An ability to sync missile targeting between multiple aircraft, known as integrated fire control or network shooting; internal weapons bays, like those seen on American F-22 stealth jets, and; the use of thrust-vectoring nozzles, devices that use the engine's thrust to turn more sharply.

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