Japan to develop underwater drone to defend remote islands against Chinese
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Japan plans to develop a large underwater drone to monitor its remote islands as Tokyo continues to build up assets set to guard against Chinese incursion.
The unmanned submersible will be unveiled in a Ministry of Defense’s policy document that lays out the island nation’s five-year plan from April 2019, Japan’s Kyodo News service reported Monday, citing a “government source.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet is slated to approve the policy in mid-December.
Officials have been mum on when the drone’s development will begin but an Iwakuni facility — where experiments to “detect sound waves” will take place in a large water tank — could be operational by fiscal year 2021, Kyodo reported. The submersible will be more than 32 feet long and “adaptable to various missions including surveillance.”
A Defense Ministry spokeswoman confirmed a funding request for research and development for the project in the fiscal year 2019 budget, which starts in April.
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