Japan on 22 April 2016 successfully tested the first stealth fighter jet. With this, the country joins a select group of world military powers wielding the radar-dodging technology.
The domestically developed single-pilot prototype X-2 jet took off from Nagoya airport in central Japan on its maiden test flight. It safely landed at Gifu air base, north of Nagoya airport, after a 25-minute flight with no particular problems.
Even though the use of military force have a strict constitutional constraints after World War II, Japan still has one of the world's most advanced defence forces and the development of the stealth fighter comes as it faces new security challenges in the form of China's expanding force posture.
At present, only the USA, Russia and China have been internationally recognised as having successfully developed and flown manned stealth jets.
• It was developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and 200 other firms, measures 14.2 metres (47 feet) long and 9.1 metres wide and was built as a successor to F-2 fighter jets developed jointly with the United States of America (USA).
• Its delivery to the defence ministry is expected as early as May 2016 and the acquisition agency will continue analysing data and check its stealth technology capability.
• Japan began the project in 2009 and has reportedly spent about 39.4 billion yen (332 million US dollars) to develop the aircraft.
• The country was barred from developing aircraft for a number of years after its defeat in World War II but eventually produced the YS-11, a propeller passenger plane that began flying in the early 1960s.
• In another aviation milestone in November 2015, Japan's first domestically produced passenger jet, also developed by Mitsubishi Heavy, made its maiden test flight.