Over the next few months, a consortium of European manufacturers is hoping to persuade the Japanese government to place a multibillion-dollar order for the Eurofighter Typhoon as the country's next mainstay fighter aircraft.

Also in the running are the F-35 Lightning II fighter, or Joint Strike Fighter, whose development is led by U.S. aircraft maker Lockheed Martin Corp., and the F/A-18 Super Hornet designed by McDonnell Douglas, part of Boeing Co. of the U.S.

Reports suggest that the stealthy F-35 is the frontrunner, but there are concerns over the cost and whether the fighter — which would replace Japan's aging F-4 Phantoms and F-15 Eagles — can be manufactured by 2017.