Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force has decided to build its next-generation stealth fighter jets with the United States (US), rejecting the offer from the United Kingdom (UK) amidst strengthening US-Japan ties.
The UK’s participation in the project would have given Japan freedom to update the jets. “A proposal to enlist British companies, which would have given Japan the freedom to update the planes at will, was ultimately rejected in favor of the increasing security ties between Japan and the US,” Japanese officials were quoted as saying by UPI on Monday.
While the US will take charge of the fighter’s design, Japan will assume the cost of research and development. An official announcement is expected later this year. Japan is unlikely to export the plane to any country the United States regards as an enemy, the report said.
The fighters, 100 of which Tokyo plans to buy, are set to replace the F-2 jets when they retire in 2035. The project is expected to cost $40 billion.
Earlier this month, Japan revealed the concept of its Mitsubishi F-X fighter jet project rivalling the US-made F-22 in size and performance. The country was reportedly seeking to partner the UK's Tempest program besides the European FCAS to develop and share crucial technologies.
“We will continue to discuss with potential partners, then we would like to determine a preliminary framework regarding development partners by December this year when we will finalise the draft cabinet budget for fiscal year (FY) 2021,” a Japanese Ministry of Defense spokesperson told Jane's on January 30.