Japan’s F-35 Order

Japan and the United States are expected to announce soon that Japan will buy 40 to 50 F-35A strike fighters in a deal valued at between $8 billion and $10 billion, according to industry officials. The order will signal the climax of Japan’s years-long F-X fighter competition that pitted the F-35 against Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Although the order will be for 40 to 50 aircraft, Japan has an actual requirement for as many as 200 fighters or more, Ralph Heath, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics executive vice president, told the Daily Report Tuesday. Heath said an order for up to 50 aircraft would replace Japan’s aged F-4 Phantoms, but Japan would still need to replace its F-15 fleet, and, later, its F-2s, which are an enlarged, license-built version of Lockheed’s F-16. Stephen O’Bryan, F-35 vice president for business development, said a Japan order would likely include creating a final assembly and checkout facility in Japan, but only for Japan’s own aircraft since Japan cannot export war materiel under its constitution. O’Bryan said Japan could receive F-35s in the 2016 timeframe. The Japanese government has delayed the formal announcement until Dec. 20, reported Reuters on Wednesday.