F-22 up­date

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

Ja­pan’s gov­ern­ment is con­tin­u­ing to press the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion to find a way to help Tokyo up­grade its air force with a new jet fighter, re­quest­ing the Air Force’s latest stealth fighter, the F-22.

A se­nior Ja­panese gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said that while there is no dead­line, “we need to de­cide on our next fighter to re­place the se­nile” jets in the Air Self-De­fense Force.

“We would like to ex­plore sev­eral pos­si­bil­i­ties be­fore it’s too late at any rate, and the F-22 is cer­tainly what we would like to look into,” the of­fi­cial said.

Cur­rent U.S. law bans the Ja­panese from even in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pur­chase as a re­sult of the amend­ment to a de­fense bill that pro­hibits ex­port of the F-22. Yet the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion has done noth­ing to seek a change in the law that would al­low it, some­thing the Air Force fa­vors be­cause an ex­port ver­sion would lower unit costs.

The of­fi­cial said the F-22, which can eas­ily pen­e­trate air de­fenses in China or North Korea, could be de­ployed solely by the U.S. in Asia, which was done re­cently on a tem­po­rary mis­sion.

“On the other hand, the U.S. al­ready pro­vided the Aegis to us, and I don’t see much sense in keep­ing an­other mil­i­tary se­cret from a ma­jor ally,” the of­fi­cial said, not­ing that the re­cent leak of Aegis se­crets from the Mar­itime Self-De­fense Forces sailor could be a prob­lem.

The of­fi­cial said Ja­pan is not wor­ried by China’s op­po­si­tion to the sale of F-22s. How­ever, China’s re­cent ap­point­ment of new For­eign Min­is­ter Yang Jiechi, a for­mer in­ter­preter who was dubbed “Tiger Yang” by for­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge Bush, may be an ef­fort by Bei­jing to head off any F-22 sale to Ja­pan and pro­mote other is­sues China views as im­por­tant.

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