U.S. Approves $23 Billion Sale of 105 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft to Japan

The U.S. State Department has approved a possible sale of 105 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and related equipment to Japan for an estimated cost of $23.11 billion.

The sale is being executed through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which oversees FMS sales, delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on July 9.

The Government of Japan has requested to buy 63 F-35A Conventional Take­Off and Landing (CTOL) aircraft, 42 F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) aircraft, and 110 Pratt and Whitney F135 turbofan engines (includes 5 spares).

Also included are Electronic Warfare Systems; Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence/Communications, Navigation and Identification; Autonomic Logistics Global Support System, Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS); Flight Mission Trainer; Weapons Employment Capability, and other Subsystems, Features, and Capabilities; F-35 unique infrared flares; reprogramming center access and F-35 Performance Based Logistics; software development/integration; flight test instrumentation; aircraft ferry and tanker support; spare and repair parts; support equipment, tools and test equipment; technical data and publications; personnel training and training equipment; U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistics support.

According to a DSCA statement, 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 U.S. national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability”, the statement said.

The prime contractors of the proposed sale will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth, Texas; and Pratt and Whitney Military Engines, East Hartford, Connecticut.

The DSCA statement said that 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-defense capability. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-4 aircraft are being decommissioned as F-35s are added to the inventory.

Japan selected the F-35A CTOL variant as the next generation fighter of choice for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) in December 2011, following the F-X competitive bid process. The country initially ordered 42 F-35As.

Japan F-35A Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

In December 2018, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced its decision to increase its procurement of F-35s from 42 to 147 and stated the aircraft will be a mix of 105 F-35As and 42 STOVLs.

Japan is upgrading the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) Izumo-class helicopter destroyers to fully fledged aircraft carriers to accommodate the F-35B STOVL jets. The two 19,500-tonne Izumo-class carriers, JS Izumo (DDH-183) and JS Kaga (DDH-184), are Japan’s largest postwar naval vessels. They are 248 metres (818 feet) long and currently carry up to 14 helicopters.

Japan is one of five current U.S. Foreign Military Sales F-35 customers to date, including Israel, the Republic of Korea, Belgium and Poland.

F-35 Lightning II

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, stealth multirole combat aircraft, designed for both air superiority and strike missions.

The aircraft was developed and is built by Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors, which include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, and BAE Systems.

The aircraft descends from the Lockheed Martin X-35, which in 2001 beat the Boeing X-32 to win the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

The F-35B entered service with the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2015, followed by the U.S. Air Force F-35A in August 2016 and the U.S. Navy F-35C in February 2019. The U.S. had plans to buy 2,443 F-35s through 2037 as of 2013, which will represent the bulk of the crewed tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for several decades. The aircraft is projected to operate until 2070. The F-35 was first used in combat in 2018, by the Israeli Air Force.

Lockheed Martin has recently announced that the company and the F-35 Joint Program Office delivered the 500th production  F-35. The 500th production aircraft is a U.S. Air Force F-35A, to be delivered to the Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont. The company also announced that the global fleet of F-35 jets surpassed 250,000 flight hours.




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