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12:05 PM, October 5, 2018
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Japanese F-2 fighter jet: JSDF photo

Japan will develop a new aircraft to succeed its F-2 fighter after rejecting proposals Lockheed Martin, Boeing and BAE System to supply new jets.

Some 92 F-2s of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force are expected to reach the end of their service life in the 2030s to replace which the Japanese government has sought bids from Lockheed Martin for its F-22, Boeing for its F-15, and BAE Systems for its Eurofighter Typhoon. All three failed to meet the cost and technical parameters set out in the procurement program, Mainichi Shimbun reported Thursday quoting unnamed MoD officials.

The new fighter jet development project will be part of the next five-year mid-term defense program to be drawn up at the end of the year. The new jet could be a joint development program with foreign companies with Japanese companies developing the engine and some other main components while a second option calls for the jet to be fully developed domestically.

Rejecting the F-22 proposal, the source told Mainichi Shimbun, "no clear explanation was given about the possibility of the United States government lifting the export ban on the aircraft.” The two other proposals (Boeing F-15 and BAE Systems Typhoon) also failed to meet the ministry's requirements.

The ministry has invested some 190 billion yen so far to conduct a technical study on the engine and electronic system for a next-generation fighter jet from fiscal 2009 through 2018, but the developed engine is still being tested to determine its basic capabilities and no plan is set for a flight test.

The government is also exploring the possibility of teaming up with British or German-French partners who are looking at developing fifth generation fighters but is unsure if their respective projects will meet its F-2 replacement deadline.

Japan is part of the F-35 program and has signed up to buy 42 F-35A aircraft. While four have been built in the US, the remaining 38 are slated for assembly in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) in Nayoga Japan.

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