A team of Japanese aircraft-makers plan to flight test the country’s first indigenously made stealth fighter aircraft, according to reports.
The consortium -- led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries -- is developing a jet that has similar technology to US-made F-35 stealth fighters, with a prototype set for a test run in January, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said.
The project is reportedly worth $384 million, according to unconfirmed reports. Following the initial flight, the jet will undergo about two years of testing at the defence ministry with Tokyo set to decide on whether to buy the plane by early 2019, it added.
The conservative government, which has depended on the US weapons, is aiming to improve its military influence in the midst of worsening tensions with Beijing.
Last month, Tokyo loosened the bonds on Japan's powerful military, proclaiming the right to go into battle in defence of allies, in a highly controversial shift for the officially pacifist country, according to Reuters.
Japan said last month that its military scrambled fighter jets a record 340 times in the three months to June in response to feared intrusions on its airspace, the report said.