The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) commemorated the arrival of the first F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft to its first operational F-35A base at Misawa Air Base, Japan on Feb. 24, 2018.
The ceremony was attended by senior leaders of Japan’s Ministry of Defense, U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ), Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and Lockheed Martin.
The aircraft, designated AX-6, is the second F-35A assembled at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ F-35 Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya, Japan and is the first to be assigned to the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing. Japan’s program of record calls for 42 F-35A aircraft. The first four aircraft were assembled at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, and delivered to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where JASDF pilots and maintenance crews are undergoing training.
Japan’s fifth F-35A, designated AX-5, was the first assembled in Nagoya and was flown to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for Electromagnetic Environmental Effects (EEE) certification, before it will join the JASDF F-35A training fleet at Luke Air Force Base.
“The F-35 represents a transformational leap in capability for the Japan Air Self Defense Force and the first aircraft’s arrival in Misawa will significantly enhance Japan’s defense and strengthen the US-Japan security alliance,” said Gary North, Lockheed Martin Vice President for Customer Requirements. “We congratulate the JASDF and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on this critical milestone and we look forward to continuing our strong partnership with Japanese government and industry as they strengthen their defense forces with the F-35.”
To date, more than 265 F-35 aircraft have been delivered to U.S. and international customers and more than 180 are in world-wide production. More than 570 F-35 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have been trained and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 125,000 cumulative flight hours.
The F-35 is the most lethal and survivable fighter aircraft in the world, giving pilots an advantage against any adversary and enabling them to execute their mission and come home safe. The transformational F-35 is more than a fighter jet, it’s a powerful force multiplier with an advanced sensor and communications suite that significantly enhances the situational awareness and capabilities of networked airborne, surface and ground-based platforms.