The Japanese government is considering selling some of its F-15 jets to the United States to raise funds for the purchase of F-35 stealth fighters.
This would be the first sale of used defense equipment to the US, Washington in turn is eyeing to sell the outdated planes to Southeast Asian countries, Nikkei reported Monday.
According to the report, Japan is negotiating the sale of the F-15 jets to purchase 105 F-35 fighters from the US. The two sides are trying to iron out details as the number of F-15s to be sold and the price.
Japan has roughly 200 F-15s that form the core of the Air Self-Defense Force’s air defense capabilities. About half the fleet has undergone modernizing overhauls, including updates to electronic equipment, but the 100 or so fighters being eyed for a sale are an older design that cannot receive the electronics upgrades. The government decided at a cabinet meeting last Tuesday to gradually swap these out for more capable F-35s.
Washington has told the Japanese side that it would consider selling the aircraft to nations with weak air forces. The arrangement would enable the US to provide fighter jets to Southeast Asian nations at cut-rate prices as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea.
The Japanese government also judged that given its lack of experience in exporting defense equipment, it would be more prudent to work indirectly through the US than to try to sell the fighters directly to a third country.
In what appears to be the largest F-35 order outside of the United States, Japan plans to buy 147 of the sixth generation stealth fighters in the next decade. The new planes will include 42 F-35Bs and will include 18 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) B cariants of the F-35 that Tokyo wants to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of East China Sea, Lockheed Martin said in a statement Tuesday
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