Japan will produce F-35s and become a center for next-gen fighter jets
TOKYO, (BM) – The Japanese Ministry of Defense announced that the responsibility for the construction of the next-generation fighter, currently known as the F-X, will be taken by a single company, which will be a “single prime” contractor, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
Other news from recent days is the decision to build 105 F-35A and B for Japan at the Nagoya assembly plant. The same service from which Tokyo gave up two years ago in this respect.
This means that in the coming years Japan will become a great center for the construction and production of top-class combat aircraft. The beneficiary in both cases will most likely be Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), which previously performed, inter alia, combat aircraft F-1 and currently serving F-2.
Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono said the main contractor, systems and engine integrator for MHI’s domestic aircraft will be “almost certainly”.
In turn, the FACO (Final Assembly and Check-Out) line located in Nagoya is a plant created in cooperation with MHI and the F-35 manufacturer – Lockheed Martin. Interestingly, in 2018, after the first aircraft were assembled there, it was decided that it would be more profitable to import ready-made machines from the United States, and in Japan to focus on their servicing, modernization, inspection and maintenance.
Now, apparently, important improvements have been made to the Japanese FACO, as the Japanese say that assembling the machines will not be more expensive now, but cheaper than importing from the USA
This means taking the pressure off the troubled Lockheed Martin production lines in Fort Worth and possibly developing new methods to reduce aircraft construction costs and / or time.
Read more: Japan joins hypersonic weapons race
It is also possible that Japan is mainly not about money, but about maximizing the independence of the F-35 acquisition program, and thus increasing the efficiency of its production and the speed of its implementation into service. In the current geopolitical situation in the Far East, it would not be surprising.
The heavy F-X program is also to be run with maximum possible use of domestic industry. Still, the Japanese assume international cooperation.
Only two countries indicate in this context: the USA and Great Britain. In particular, it is desirable to work with Washington as the most experienced owner of the appropriate technologies and strategic partner on the international stage.
Washington and Tokyo had long since agreed
As we reported on July 10 this year the US State Department approved the potential sale of 105 fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets and related equipment to Japan.
According to Pentagon the total transaction amount could be $ 23.11 billion.
Tokyo intends to purchase 63 fighter aircraft of the standard version F-35A for the Air Force and 42 aircraft F-35B with a short take-off and vertical landing, created for the US Marine Corps.
“The proposed sale will contribute to US foreign policy and national security goals by enhancing the security of its main ally, which is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. For US national security interests, it is vital to help Japan develop and maintain a strong and effective self-defense potential,” the US Department of Defense noted.
The US administration has already notified the US Congress of its decision. Legislators now have 30 days to study this new military contract and approve or block it.
Note that this is Japan’s second purchase of fifth-generation fighter jets: a contract is currently being implemented for the supply of 42 F-35A aircraft by the Japanese Air Force.
But what about the fifth-generation Japanese aircraft?
A special group to develop the successor to the Japanese F-2 fighter was created by the Procurement, Technology and Logistics Agency of the Ministry of Defense of Japan as we reported in April this year.
According to the publication, the group was headed by a major general of the Japanese Air Force, and it included about 30 officers, engineers and other employees.
Japan plans to launch its next-generation fighter aircraft by 2035 and intends to create infrastructure by the end of the year for joint development and technical cooperation with the United States and Great Britain.
According to the requirements, the new fighter must have an advanced stealth sensor, electronic warfare (EW) and missile capacity equal to or greater than that of the modern stealth F-35 fighter-bomber (USA), as well as the ability to interact in joint missions with American military units.
About 11.1 billion yen has been allocated for the development of the newest fighter in the state budget of Japan for 2020.
Recall that the United States and Great Britain compete for the joint development of the successor to the F-2 fighter with Japan. In order to “defeat” a competitor in this struggle on the field of Japanese military industry, the United States agreed to disclose the source code for the F-35 fighter software (on the basis of which it is planned to create a new Japanese fighter), as well as to provide the possibility of replacing Japanese components in the new fighter with American ones.
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