Japan will upgrade 98 of its ageing F-15 Eagle interceptors after the US State Department approved the $4.5 billion request.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency released a statement regarding the approval of the upgrades, which runs under the foreign military sales program.
The upgrades requested by Japan for its F-15 fleet are as follows:
- 103 APG-82(v)1 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars (includes five spares);
- 116 Advanced Display Core Processor II (ADCP II) mission system computers (includes 18 spares);
- 101 ALQ-239 Digital Electronic Warfare Systems (DEWS) (includes three spares);
- Joint Mission Planning System (JMPS) with software, training and support;
- Selective Availability Anti-spoofing Module (SAASM);
- ARC-210 radio;
- Aircraft and munition integration and test support;
- Ground training devices (including flight and maintenance simulators); and
- An array of support and test equipment, as well as the required engineering, technical and logistics support.
"It is vital to US national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defence capability," a release from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.
"This proposed sale will provide Japan a critical air defence capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and US personnel stationed there. Modernised F-15J assets will better enable Japan to respond to airborne threats and defend its airspace. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces.
"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region."
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) operates 200 variants of the F-15 (155 F-15J and F-15DJ), with the earliest aircraft being in service with the nation since the late '80s.
The aircraft was mostly built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries earlier that decade, which will now be responsible as prime contractor for the DCS portion of the upgrades.
Boeing has won the rights to be the prime contractor for the FMS portion, as well as sub-contracting for FMS and DCS elements.
Upgrades to the F-15 have traditionally struggled in Japan, with changes in governments seeing changes to scheduled improvements to the aircraft on more than one occasion.
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The proposed upgrades would be the largest to take place on the aircraft since they entered service.
The JASDF is also undergoing its F-35 rollout, with one squadron currently operational out of its total order of 147 aircraft.
Japan more than tripled its order of the aircraft in December, after originally committing to purchase 42 of the fifth-generation aircraft.
These purchases include the F-35B variant, which will have the ability to fly from Japan's upgraded Izumo Class large-deck amphibious warfare ships.
It is expected that it will take approximately five years from the initial budget and acquisition to deployment for the F-35B to achieve full operating capability with JASDF – which has prompted the Japanese government to formally request the support of the US Marine Corps "for co-operation and advice on how to operate the fighter on the deck of the modified ships".
The commitment from Japan makes it the biggest foreign buyer of the F-35.