- Beijing has issued strong remarks amid news that Tokyo is considering F-35B fighters for its helicopter carriers
- Japan’s defence minister has downplayed reports but the strongly worded statement from Beijing sheds more light on Chinese sentiments over the STOVL aircraft
Amid reports that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) is considering to refit its fleet of Izumo-class helicopter carriers to carry F-35B fighter aircraft, Beijing has called on Tokyo to ‘act cautiously’ with regards to military matters.
Citing unnamed government sources, daily newspaper The Japan Times reported on 26 December that the country’s defence ministry is considering a plan to acquire F-35B fighters. The aircraft, which feature short take-off/vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities, are being considered for deployment onboard Japan’s Izumo-class helicopter carriers, the report added.
The Japan Air Self-Defense force (JASDF) is anticipating 42 F-35As with conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) capabilities, and in its latest defence budget, the Japanese government has allocated JPY2.2 billion (USD19.5 million) to equip this platform with the precision-guided, stand-off Joint Strike Missile (JSM) developed by Norwegian company Kongsberg Defence Systems.
“Due to historical reasons, Japan’s moves in the field of military security have been closely followed by its neighboring countries in Asia and the international community at large,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on 26 December, in response to questions on the report.
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