Mitsubishi will not supplying parts to F-35 manufacturing project due to an intra-governmental spat over investment, The Asahi Shimbun reported.
Nearly $97 million is required by Mitsubishi Heavy in investment for plant and equipment to meet plans to produce 24 F-35s for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and foreign militaries annually.
The company asked the government to shoulder the investment required to produce the fighters for foreign clients, but the Defense Ministry refused, ministry sources told Asahi Shimbun.
The program is likely to be scaled down as Mitsubishi Heavy’s participation in the project as a parts supplier now remains “nowhere in sight,” according to a senior Defense Ministry official.
The project was authorized as an exception to Japan’s self-imposed ban on arms exports before the Abe administration eased the restrictions in April.
The international collaboration involved companies from United States, Britain to supply Lockheed Martin with parts that are to be assembled in the US, Italy and Japan.
Japan in December 2011 announced its intention to buy 42 F-35s as the SDF’s next-generation mainstay fighter. Tokyo also agreed with Washington to supply parts to not only for the SDF models but also for F-35s deployed elsewhere.
In fiscal 2013, the Defense Ministry reached agreement with IHI Corp. to build engine parts for the SDF models and with Mitsubishi Electric Corp. for the supply of electric components.
The two companies started supplying the parts to Lockheed Martin and other partner companies that fiscal year. They also plan to export parts for F-35s to be deployed in foreign countries.