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Japan to order 100 more F-35s?

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 3, 2018

MP17-0575 F-35 Japan AX-5 ceremony — Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Marietta, Ga. Lockheed Martin Photography by Thinh D. Nguyen

The Japanese Self Defence Force plans to order a mix of 100 Lockheed Martin F-35As and Bs to add to the 42 F-35As it already has in service or on order, Japan’s Nikkei news service has reported.

The F-35As would be used to replace some of the older F-15Js Japan has in service which are deemed not suitable to be upgraded, while the F-35Bs reportedly will be embarked upon the JMSDF’s two Izumo class helicopter destroyers. The planned numerical breakdown between each model is not known, but some commentators have suggested it would be in the order of 70 F-35As and 30 F-35Bs.

Approval for the purchase is reported as likely to come in mid-December when the Japanese Government tables its new National Defense Program Guidelines. Japan currently operates about 200 F-15Js, and plans to upgrade about half of them to a standard similar to Boeing’s Advanced F-15 standard.

The Izumo/F-35B combination would likely be employed in defence of Japan’s remote islands, some of which are disputed territory claimed by China, and others which are close to maritime borders with Russia, Korea and China.

The two Izumo class vessels, Izumo and Kaga would require modifications including the integration of an air traffic management system, increased fuel and weapons bunkerage, and possibly a ski-jump ramp in order to operate about 10-12 F-35Bs.

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Comments (6)

  • Mick C


    Reports today Monday that the first 2 RAAF F-35s will leave Luke AFB Tuesday Moring Australia time bound for Australia via Hawaii & Guam for arrival at Amberley late in the week and then Willy Town on Monday 10 Dec.

  • Allan Jones


    Be a good thing to see them finally home

  • Anyone else seen the photos of the Spanish LHD Juan Carlos with about 6 or 7 Harriers on her flight deck? It’s obvious that the government (and Defence) do not want to see (at this point in time) our LHD’s with F35B’s on board. But if the Spanish and now Japanese can see the benefits of utilising these ships (helicopter carriers) for these aircraft, then it is an option for Australia as well.

  • Mick C


    The Spanish have been operating Harriers off true Aircraft Carriers since the 1970s but were forced to ditch their last True Aircraft Carrier in 2013 as a cost cutting measure, leaving them with a Sqn of Harriers and the only ship to operate them the LHD Juan Carlos 1 and this is why you see them on their LHD. The issue with the Canberra Class is they don’t carry enough Fuel Bunkerage to be able to generate enough F-35 Combat sorties to make it worthwhile without a significant refit. The Spanish planned to use the JC1 as a Auxiliary Carrier only, mainly Trg, Aircraft Tpt but not as a Frontline carrier.
    It really is little more then a Trg Capability to maintain institutional knowledge on how to operate a Carrier with the hope that Spain will one day be able to afford a new Carrier with F-35Bs At at best the JC1 is a mediocre Carrier(20kt top speed for starters) as would F-35Bs operating off the Canberra’s.

  • Derrick


    Mick, isn’t the Turkish using the same design of LHD to run the B models? That’s if the US will allow the Turkish to fleet the F35 after Turkey is looking to buy the S400 from Russia.

  • Rob


    Re “…… Izumo/F-35B combination would likely be employed in defence of Japan’s remote islands….”

    Among other patrols, yes, but strategic capability has long legs. JMSDF now covers all sorts of oggin, from SCS to IO. Pic at link of Izumo at a recent ex Malabar, with USS Nimitz and Vikramaditya. Here – https://i.imgur.com/EWUEniF.jpg

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