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F-35 gets a boost from Tokyo

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 20, 2011

Japan has announced the selection of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as it updates its fighter force. (Lockheed Martin)

Japan will purchase 42 Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters as it moves to cope with increasing security concerns in northeast Asia.

The Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) said Japan’s initial letter of agreement will include four conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35As to be delivered in 2016 and built as part of low-rate initial production (LRIP) batch eight.

Japan had short-listed the F-35 alongside the less advanced but cheaper and more proven Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter Typhoon to replace its ageing fleet of F-4EJ Phantoms. The deal represents the F-35’s first win in a competitive tender, and was seen as increasing the likelihood that South Korea will follow suit.

The move by Japan was seen as an endorsement of the F-35’s stealth technology and cutting edge sensors, as well as a reflection of the country’s traditional reliance on US military hardware.

“It is a big boost for the program politically,” James Hardy, a London based analyst at IHS Jane’s DS Forecast told Bloomberg News. “Many partner nations have committed to buying the F-35, but to have it win an external competition will certainly help take the pressure off.”


The decision is a particular fillup for the F-35 after the head of JPO, Vice Admiral David Venlet, last month recommended slowing initial production of F-35s, saying problems uncovered during early stress testing were more numerous than expected.

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Comments (4)

  • Ron


    Japan originally wanted F-22’s but the US wouldn’t sell them. So they set about developing their own stealth fighter, as did China. But whilst China has succeeded, it seems Japan’s efforts have fallen to possibly economic & undoubted political pressure, particularly pressure from their US masters to buy their product instead of building their own or buy the Eurofighter. Hate to think what went on behind the scenes.

  • Roger


    A lot of countries wanted to buy the F22 . The US as there right said no. China succeeded. Well no one KNOWs the true stealth of the Chinese Plane. It may be close to the F35 , or not. And stop these racist thoughts that the Japanese cannot think for them selves and chose the F35 becuase they were told too. Maybe it is the best plane for the role? I mean it is officially been modelled as 4-6 times better than 4+gen legacy fighters.

  • Steve


    Australia (apart from APA) did want buy the F-22. It is too one dimensional air-air, with very little air-ground. Even now it’s radar ground mapping is yet to be fully cleared, and air-ground ordance consists of free-fall bombs – with GPS guidance only. Not much better than a B-17 70 years ago, and certainly not capablle against moving targets.

    Aviation week reported that a F-22 cleared for export to Japan would cost $300M each in expoirt standard and would not be available until 2017!!.

    It has very limited Link 16 so can hadly exchange data with any one – and to do so is part of $7Bn upgrade for just part of the limited fleet.

    BTW – it has oxygen prolems too!!

    All RAAF fighters since the Sabre have equally air-air/air-ground capability. Remember we chose the derivative of fhe multi-role Mirage IIID rather than the air-air Mirage IIIC.

  • Peter


    Japan should’ve stayed with F-15SE Silent Eagle.

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