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International relations

Japan and UK to collaborate on missile development

Tokyo's first non-US partnership would develop an air-to-air weapon

The planned missile is seen being equipped on the cutting-edge F-35 stealth fighter used by Japan's Air Self-Defense Force. (Courtesy of ASDF)

TOKYO -- Japan will team with the U.K. to develop an air-to-air missile, Tokyo's first defense equipment project with a partner other than the U.S. and a potential turning point for the country's arms export policy.

The planned weapon will incorporate a powerful radar system developed by Mitsubishi Electric into European manufacturer MBDA's Meteor missile, combining long range and high accuracy. A prototype will be built at an MBDA plant starting in fiscal 2018. Live-fire testing in the U.K. is slated to begin as early as fiscal 2023, at which point Japan and the U.K. will decide whether to put the weapon into mass production.

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