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U.S. ban forces Japan to modernize F-15 fighters

RIA Novosti

17/12/2007 16:58 TOKYO, December 17 (RIA Novosti) - Japan will be unable to purchases state-of-the-art U.S. fighter aircraft before 2010, and will prioritize instead the upgrading of the Air Force's 40 F-15 Eagle jets, a Defense Ministry source said on Monday.

F-15 Eagle, an all-weather tactical fighter designed to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat, was developed for the U.S. Air Force, and first flew in July 1972.

The source confirmed that there had been an indefinite postponement in the delivery of the next-generation U.S. fighter jets, F-22A Raptor, whose combination of stealth, super-cruise speeds, maneuverability, and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability, represent an exponential leap in combat capabilities.

According to the daily Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, the ministry was forced to drop plans to introduce state-of-the-art F-22 Raptor stealth fighters from the United States due to, in the main, U.S. doubts about Japan's reliability in safeguarding military secrets.

The ministry had earlier pondered the possibility of buying Eurofighter Typhoon fighters - a highly agile Air Superiority and Air-to-Surface, whose multi-role/swing-role weapon system makes it the most capable front line fighter available.

The ministry's ongoing buildup is focused on China's strengthening military capabilities.

The paper also quoted military officials as saying that there was no sign that the United States would lift its virtual ban on the export of F-22s in the near future.

Ministry officials said that in order to ensure an advantage in air defense against China, the ASDF must have two squadrons totaling 40 modernized F-15s.

Japan is prohibited by its Constitution from using military force except in cases of self-defense.

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