Japan test flew its first stealth plane from Nagoya Airfield to Gifu Air Base on 22 April. The aircraft is considered part of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plans to strengthen the country's military.

Japan, despite strict constitutional constraints on the use of military force imposed after WWII, has one of the world's most advanced defence forces. The development of the stealth fighter comes as it faces new security challenges in the form of China's expanding force posture.

The X-2 jet, made domestically, took off from Nagoya airport on its maiden test flight. Dozens of aviation enthusiasts watching the event erupted in applause as it lifted off into the clear morning sky. Footage showed the jet blasting off into the air, escorted by two data-collecting military fighters.

"The first flight has a very significant meaning that can secure technologies needed for future fighter development," Defence Minister Gen Nakatani told reporters.

"We can also expect it can be applied to other fields and technological innovation in the entire aviation industry," Nakatani added.