Japan plans to include 20 US-made advanced stealth F-35A fighter jets in its new medium-term defense plan for the 2019-2023, Sputnik reported citing Yomiuri Shimbun.
Japan intends to have 42 such fighter jets in its Air Self-Defense Force by 2024 fiscal year, the Japanese newspaper stated. The new defense plan, which will be formed by the end of 2018, prescribes the additional purchase of 20 more such aircraft and all of them must be deployed in Japan by 2028 fiscal year, the publication said.
The newspaper said citing government sources that procurement of F-35A jets is necessary to deter the growing military activity of China.
The fighter jets will be stationed at bases located in Miyazaki, Ibaraki and some other prefectures.
The F-35A is the most lightweight and low-cost version of the F-35 fighter jet. Earlier, the government of Japan planned to deploy 10 such aircraft during the financial year which began on April 1, 2018.
Japan's decision to purchase more jets comes following the state government's approval of the largest budget in the country's history for the next fiscal year (starting from April 1, 2018) in the amount of 97.7 trillion yen ($897 billion) announced late last year. Defense spending increased 1.17 percent year-on-year to 5.19 trillion yen ($47.6 billion). The military budget increase was explained by North Korea's growing activity in the development of its nuclear and missile programs, as well as Tokyo's intention to improve its anti-missile defense.