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Japan Plans First Spy Plane To Watch North Korea: Report

One option is the US-built Global Hawk, but Japan is also looking at building its own UAV systems.

Tokyo (AFP) Jul 26, 2005
Japan plans to introduce unmanned spy aircraft to watch military bases in North Korea or other countries, letting Tokyo gather such intelligence on its own for the first time, a report said Tuesday.

The Defense Agency will tighten its watch on North Korea, which fired a missile over Japan in 1998, regardless of the outcome of multilateral talks that began Tuesday in China to end Pyongyang's nuclear drive, the Tokyo Shimbun said.

The agency will seek funds on the project for the fiscal year beginning in April 2006, the newspaper said, without citing sources.

The agency would not confirm the report. A spokesman said only that the agency was "considering" plans for the next fiscal year.

The report said the agency wanted to have surveillance aircraft that would endure a long flight at an altitude of 20 kilometers (12 miles), a height unreachable by ground-to-air missiles.

The aircraft could watch missile bases in inland North Korea and alert Japanese troops if it sees any sign of a missile launch with its infra-red sensors, it said.

The plane, to be domestically developed or imported from the United States, would also be able to take pictures of military facilities in other countries and chase spy ships, it said.

Japan would thus have its own "eyes" to watch other nations' military activity for the first time since the end of World War II when the nation became officially pacifist, the newspaper said.

Tokyo can already eavesdrop on military communications, but the lack of a greater espionage network has led to concern that Japanese policymakers are too dependent on US intelligence.

A weekend report by the Yomiuri Shimbun said Japan wants to put a missile shield it is developing with the United States in place in early 2006, one year earlier than planned, due to perceived threats from North Korea and China.

The agency spokesman said the official policy was still to start deploying the system in March 2007.

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Boeing Awards Multiple Contracts for First Phase of New UAV Program
St Louis (SPX) July 26, 2005
Boeing and Science Applications International today awarded four multimillion-dollar contracts to three premier industry partners to participate in the first phase of development for two classes of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

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