F-35 Dominos?

Japan’s decision to buy the F-35 strike fighter—the formal announcement of which is anticipated next week—is a huge development for the F-35 program because Japan could be the first of many “dominos” to fall in a flurry of F-35 orders, said industry officials. “I can’t imagine Japan ordering a fifth generation fighter and [South] Korea not doing the same thing,” with Singapore following suit, as well, said one Lockheed Martin executive. Both South Korea and Singapore are current F-15 users and Boeing’s F-15 Silent Eagle is a contender in the South Korea and Singapore competitions. Boeing has pointed out that its Silent Eagle package confers on the F-15 a frontal radar cross section that meets the same stealth export criteria as the F-35. Together, Japan, South Korea and Singapore—as well as Spain—have a collective requirement for more than 700 new fighters, a total larger than the combined anticipated buys of the eight F-35 international partner countries. If South Korea, Singapore, and Spain do follow suite and opt for the F-35, that would have a dramatic effect on F-35 unit costs due to volume, according to the industry officials.