Japan’s defense ministry has announced that it will consider procurement of the F-35 strike fighter as part of its Fiscal 2012 budget request. The F-35 would provide the Japan Air Self Defense Force with a fifth-generation fighter in lieu of the F-22, which US officials have said is not available for export. The Kyodo News reports (via Japan Today) that Japan seeks to acquire 40 aircraft, likely selecting the F-35 over the F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-15FX, and Eurofighter Typhoon. Although Japan decided against additional procurement of the indigenously developed Mitsubishi F-2 (based on the F-16) as a stopgap to F-35 delays, the defense ministry has not ruled out upgrading JASDF’s current fleet of F-15Js in the interim, according to the report.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.