Japan may buy additional F-35 jets if price falls, Onodera says


Japan may purchase additional F-35 fighter jets if their procurement costs fall, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tuesday after visiting a Lockheed Martin Corp. assembly plant in Fort Worth, Texas.

“If the unit price falls, it may be important to reconsider the number of fighters (Japan will buy),” said Onodera, who held talks with senior officials from Lockheed Martin at the factory.

As the successor to the aging F-4 Phantom operated by the Air Self-Defense Force, the F-35 has advanced stealth capabilities and can escape radar detection. The ASDF currently has 42 of them on order.

The Defense Ministry and the ASDF also need to replace roughly half of the 200 or so aging F-15 fighter jets currently in operation, and Onodera’s remarks suggest that the government might favor the F-35 as a replacement.

A five-year defense program, in operation through fiscal 2018, says Japan will “consider replacing those F-15s that do not get refurbished with more advanced fighters.”

Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Defense said it was grounding the country’s entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets for engine inspections, after one caught fire as it prepared to take off in Florida in late June.

  • L O’Brien

    The Lockheed Martin F35 Joint Striker Jet is going down as the biggest disaster in aviation history.
    Firstly, it is NOT stealth which was its only selling point. The International Aviation Authority has already confirmed that Russia’s radars can detect the F35.
    Secondly, the F35 is suffering from the same ‘Raptor cough’ the F22 has meaning that pilots are suffocating.
    Thirdly, the F35 is far more expensive than any of the European jets so it would be pointless for any EU country to buy them including Turkey. Which means that only Canada and Asian countries are likely to buy the F35. The Chinese are buying the Russian radars that can detect them which could make a war interesting.
    The Canadians are thinking of not buying the F35 because it is a single engine fighter jet which would be useless over large distances which have birds.