• JIJI, REUTERS

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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) is expected to receive technical assistance from Lockheed Martin Corp. to develop a new fighter jet for the Air Self-Defense Force, government and ruling coalition officials said Friday.

Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35 stealth jet, is likely to join the fighter project as a subcontractor for the Japanese company, the officials said.

Specifically, the U.S. defense contractor is expected to provide MHI with technical assistance to do with an integrated radar and missile system as well as improving the plane’s mobility and stealth, the officials said.

The new fighter, which is known as the F-3 or F-X and is expected to cost around $40 billion (about ¥4.16 trillion), will replace Japan’s F-2, which was jointly developed by MHI and Lockheed more than two decades ago. The Defense Ministry plans to start deploying the new jet in 2035, when it begins to retire F-2s.

The ministry has asked for ¥77.2 billion in budget outlays for the project for fiscal 2021, which begins in April.

Japan has said it will announce the names of foreign companies invited to join the project before the end of the year.

Firms that have expressed interest in participating include F-18 Super Hornet builder Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. from the United States, as well as Britain’s BAE Systems PLC and Rolls Royce Holdings PLC.

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