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11:32 AM, February 22, 2018
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Japan Considers Purchase Of Additional 25 US-built F-35A Stealth Fighters
Japan Considers Purchase Of Additional 25 US-built F-35A Stealth Fighters

The Japanese government is considering purchase of additional 25 or more Lockheed Martin-built F-35A aircraft, to be directly purchased from the US plant rather than assemble locally.

"In view of budgets and production schedules, a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate," a Japanese official told Reuters Wednesday.

According to the report, Tokyo is looking to save about $30 million per plane if the plan to acquire directly from Lockheed's US-based plant takes place.

At present, the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant in Komaki, Japan, is already developing thirty-eight of the 42 F-35A aircraft under a contract signed in 2011.

It was reported in December last year, that Tokyo was also considering the possibility of acquiring US-made F-35B fighter jets in future, as it is looking into remodelling Tokyo’s Izumo helicopter carrier.

However, Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said the government was not taking any concrete steps towards refitting the Izumo.

"Regarding our defence posture, we are constantly conducting various examinations. But no concrete examination is under way on the introduction of F-35B or remodelling of Izumo-class destroyers," Onodera said.

Japan's first F-35A aircraft are deployed in northern Japan to conduct surveillance on North Korea and protect Japanese airspace. It replaces aging F-4 Phantom fighters that date back to 1960s. The next batch will allow Japan to retire some of the aging 200 F-15s flown by the ASDF that are the main interceptor workhorse of the nation's air defences.

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