Tokyo: The Japanese government has begun working on a jet fighter, the first such aircraft to be built in the country since World War II, the Nikkei newspaper reported Monday.
The prototype is a joint venture between the Japanese government and defence contractors Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI.
It is still in its development phase and is scheduled to undergo its first test flight in January.
The plane will have a light and powerful engine, stealth capabilities and a high-pressure turbine and fuel system.
The estimated cost of the project is around one trillion yen ($9.2 billion), the newspaper said.
Besides supplying its own air force with the planes, Japan intends to export them to third parties, while developing new aerospace technology which could be used in building passenger aircraft.
The project began after Japan amended its pacifist constitution to give a greater role to its defence forces whose powers are limited solely to defending the country.
The Japanese also made changes in their policy of arms production, allowing the export of weapons for the first time in half a century.
With these measures, the government intends to invigorate the Japanese industry and improve its ability to defend its territories such as the Senkaku Islands that are also claimed by China.
Japan last tried to develop a fighter jet in 1987 with a design based on the French-built F1.
But the project was halted after opposition from Washington and on the grounds that Japanese firms did not have the required technology, Nikkei reported.
Since then, Japan has acquired fighters made by the US defense firm Lockheed Martin and begun joint projects with the US to design and produce military aircraft.