Not an Issue This Time

One of the reasons Congress barred Japan—or any other ally, for that matter—from buying the F-22 Raptor was concern over attempts to back-engineer the aircraft and develop competitive products. Apparently, that’s not an issue with the F-35 strike fighter. Larry Lawson, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, told the Daily Report that the US government has worked agreements with Japan on the F-35. “The government has defined how we will go about doing business in Japan and it was very clear,” said Lawson. Japan is “a valued partner . . . and we’ll work with them both on capabilities in the aircraft as well as in industrial participation,” he said. The scope of work Japan will get has also been worked out at the government-to-government level. Lawson said “there will be a final assembly and checkout facility” and Japanese will have “a number of options available . . . as to the components, etc., they want to build.” Lockheed has “a longstanding relationship with Mitsubishi,” the prime contractor for the F-16-derived Japanese F-2 fighter, but the methods of production between the aircraft are “significantly different,” noted Lawson June 19.