June 19, 2007:
Although the Japanese F-2 fighter
(very similar to the F-16 ) has been in service for seven years, it only
dropped live bombs for the first time this Summer. This is so because Japan has
no training facility in its own territory for live bombings. Thus it's only
when Japanese warplanes are flown to foreign training areas, that they can they
practice using real bombs. For this practice bombing, the Japanese F2 aircraft
flew to an American air base in Guam, in the Central Pacific.
This Japanese policy is nothing new. In the last
sixty years, there have been only three times where Japanese warplanes dropped
live munitions. The rest of the time, they practice with inert munitions, and
simulated (by computer) bombs. Japanese aircraft have not been in combat since
World War II, so there's no way of knowing if their training practices have had
an adverse effect on combat effectiveness.