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Japan to develop combat drones to assist jet fighters

Tokyo eyes deployment of home-grown aircraft in 2035 with U.S. help

Japan's Self-Defense Forces currently use the U.S.-made Global Hawk drone, but for surveillance rather than combat.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan plans to develop unmanned aircraft that will fly in support of fighter aircraft, as the government aims to strengthen the defense of its airspace and to deter attacks, Nikkei has learned. The drones will be jointly developed with the U.S. to allow the two allies to operate more closely together.

The drones will be tasked with early detection of enemy aircraft and missiles. The government is also considering equipping the drones with missiles that would intercept missiles launched by an enemy.

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