Japan Begins Development of Remote-Controlled Fighter Aircraft, to be Ready for Deployment in 2035

With an eye on China and visualising the future of warfare, Japan has begun to develop a remote-controlled fighter aircraft which will be ready for deployment in 2035. Nikkei Asia is reporting that the 15-year project has acquired urgency to counter China’s cascading advancement of hi-tech weaponry.

Currently, Tokyo stands outmanned and outgunned by its larger neighbour, the daily observes. It points out that China possesses more than 1,000 fourth-generation fighter jets that can reach supersonic speeds, about triple as many as Japan. It has also began deploying fifth-generation stealth fighters.

Japan’s Defence Ministry plans to introduce fighter drones in three stages – first those that are remote controlled, then “teaming” operations where one manned plane would control several drones, and ultimately for use in completely unmanned and autonomous squadrons.

Autonomous weapons require advanced machine-learning capabilities, and international rules have yet to catch up to the technology. The ministry plans to focus on teaming operations first for its 2035 goal, set to coincide with the deployment of Japan’s next-generation manned fighters.

Japanese companies, part of Tokyo’s re-emerging military industrial complex, which have been engaged in the project include Subaru. The company will be in charge of developing remote and flight control capabilities.

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