The US State Department has approved a US$23.11 billion foreign military sale of 105 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and related equipment to Japan as part of the nation’s growing fleet of fifth-generation fighters.
As part of the multibillion-dollar deal, Japan requested 63 F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and 42 F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft to equip the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).
In addition to the aircraft, the deal will include 110 Pratt and Whitney F135 engines (includes five spares), electronic warfare systems; command, control, communications, computers and intelligence/communications, navigation and identification; autonomic logistics global support system, autonomic logistics information system; flight mission trainer; weapons employment capability, and other subsystems, features, and capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming centre access and F-35 performance based logistics.
The Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) states, "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. It is vital to US national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defence capability."
The proposed sale of aircraft and support will augment Japan's operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defence capability.
The JASDF fleet of Cold War-era F-4 aircraft are being decommissioned as F-35s are added to the inventory. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces.
Japan's fleet of F-35A aircraft will fulfil the role currently being conducted by the locally produced variant of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-2, while the Japanese government has committed to the local design, development and production of a highly capable, air dominance focused fifth-generation fighter aircraft to replace the ageing F-15J.
The fleet of F-35Bs outlined as part of the purchase will be used to re-establish a fixed-wing naval aviation capability for the first time since the end of the Second World War and will be deployed onboard the JMSDF's two Izumo Class 'destroyers'.
The prime contractors will be Lockheed Martin, Fort Worth, Texas; and Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Connecticut. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Implementation of this proposed sale will require multiple trips to Japan involving US government and contractor representatives for technical reviews/support, programs management, and training over a period of 25 years.
US contractor representatives will be required in Japan to conduct Contractor Engineering Technical Services (CETS) and Autonomic Logistics and Global Support (ALGS) for after-aircraft delivery.