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Japan belatedly plans to introduce armed UAVs

22nd September 2022 - 02:32 GMT | by Koji Miyake in Tokyo

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The JGSDF has deployed Insitu’s ScanEagle UAV, but the country is now eyeing armed UAVs and loitering munitions. (Koji Miyake)

Japan has been lagging behind in the application of military UAVs, but current conflicts have prompted it to realise the need for armed UAVs and loitering munitions.

The Japanese MoD has decided to trial armed UAVs from FY2023, according to Japanese media, and it will introduce hundreds of them from FY2025 onwards.

The UAVs to be tested will likely be mainly loitering munitions such as the Israeli Harop or American Switchblade. Furthermore, missile-carrying UAVs in the category of the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 will also be introduced.

The only UAVs currently in use by Japan are for reconnaissance missions, such as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk, and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s ScanEagles and FFOS/FFRS observation rotary-winged UAVs.

The Japanese MoD has belatedly decided

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Koji Miyake

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Koji Miyake


Koji Miyake is a Tokyo-based writer.

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