Okay boys, you're off the hook.Kyodo News reports that the Japan Defense Agency "plans to produce two prototype high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned reconnaissance aircraft by fiscal 2012 at a total cost of 22 billion yen ..."JDA sources told Kyodo that the Technical Research and Development Institute hopes to reduce Japan's dependence on imported UAVs:
The move is expected to stir debate over whether it is appropriate to pour large sums of taxpayer money into developing planes that would most likely be inferior to existing U.S. aircraft and that would require even further investment to be practical.[snip]The prototype that the institute plans to produce would be able to operate for more than 10 hours at an altitude of about 15,000 meters. It would have a wingspan of about 24 meters.By comparison, the U.S. Global Hawk, which costs 5.7 billion yen each, flies for more than 35 hours at about 20,000 meters. The U.S. Predator B, at 800 million, yen cruises for more than 30 hours at 15,000 meters.The announcement follows reports that Japan is considering buying US Global Hawk drones.The current Japanese surveillance UAV is called the Forward Flying Observation System (FFOS). The FFOS is essentially an unpiloted helicopter, manufactured by Fuji Heavy Industries -- the people who make the Subaru.-- posted by Jeffrey Lewis.