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Japan Launches UAV Program

WIth UAVs the future of military aircraft, Japan is concerned that it needs to develop a domestic capacity to develop and field UAV systems of its own. But the result by an inferior product at a time when Japan faces increasing regional risks.

Washington, (UPI) July 22, 2005
Japan has started its own unmanned aerial vehicle development program and aims to produce two prototypes by fiscal 2012 for $200 million.

The UAVs would replace importation of U.S.-made UAVs.

The plan will ignite debate in Parliament about whether such a massive investment is a wise use of taxpayer money when the end result is likely to be inferior to existing U.S. aircraft.

UAVs could be useful, however, for detecting suspicious vessels ion nearby waters and in defending outlying islands and could contribute to missile defense by providing surveillance on North Korean ballistic missile launches.

Japan began basic research on UAVs in fiscal 2003 and has spent $21.8 million up to now. But it does not have universal support, and Defense Agency Director Gen. Yoshinori Ono has indicated that buying U.S.-made UAVs might still be an option.

"We would like to compare the costs of purchasing the planes from other countries and manufacturing them domestically."

Some experts said that some in the Defense Agency are hoping to protect the Japanese defense technology infrastructure from becoming ever more reliant on U.S. weapons systems. Others in the Japanese military are concerned that the UAV project would be a repeat of the costly F-2 support fighter, which Japan decided to jointly develop with the United States because it did not want to buy foreign models.

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Northrop Grumman Opens Integration Lab For Fire Scout UAV
San Diego CA (SPX) Jul 22, 2005
On July 19, Northrop Grumman Corporation opened its new System Integration Laboratory for the U.S. Army's RQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff and landing unmanned air vehicle (UAV). The laboratory provides a place for the Fire Scout team to test and refine the UAV.

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