F-35 and the Rising Sun

Japan is reportedly now setting its sights on acquiring 40 F-35s next decade and not F-22s to replace its aging F-4 fighters. The Kyodo News reported Monday (via The Japan Times) that the Japanese defense ministry is preparing to make budgetary requests for the F-35 as early as its Fiscal 2011 spending plan. Japan has expressed an interest in buying an export version of the F-22. But despite some senior US Congressional lawmakers working this year toward overturning a standing ban on F-22 exports, Pentagon leaders have reacted coolly to the idea of providing F-22s for Japan or other allies, instead promoting the inherent exportability of the F-35. And the Air Force leadership has been equally unenthusiastic about the prospect of pumping dollars into developing an export model.