Japan will launch a tender for fighter jets as soon as midmonth, the Defense Ministry said, in a deal seen worth up to $40 billion (¥4.12 trillion) as Tokyo seeks to bolster its air defenses amid creeping tension with China over disputed maritime borders.

In one of the biggest fighter jet contracts up for grabs in years, a ministry spokesman said Japan will contact foreign and domestic defense contractors soon after a July 5 deadline for expressions of interest in the tender for about 100 warplanes.

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