Japan to spend $40 billion to procure 100 stealth fighters

Japan will launch a tender for fighter jets as soon as mid-July, the Ministry of Defence said, in a deal seen worth up to $40 billion as Tokyo seeks to bolster its air defenses amid creeping tension with China over disputed maritime borders.

In one of the biggest fighter jet contracts up for grabs in years, a ministry spokesman said Japan will contact foreign and domestic defense contractors soon after a July 5 deadline for expressions of interest in the tender for about 100 stealth fighters.

A final decision is likely in summer 2018, the people said, with deployment due at the end of the 2020s at the earliest.

The JASDF has three options, according to a Japanese official interviewed by Flight Global.

  1. Develop an indigenous air superiority fighter.
  2. partner with a foreign defense contractor and license-produce a new aircraft
  3. import or upgrade an existing platform.

Japan’s F3 fighter

Lockheed Martin was denied an export license to sell its F-22 Raptor stealth air superiority fighter to Japan in the 2000s. As a result, Japan’s defense industry initiated the X-2 program in order to design a fifth-generation twin-engine stealth aircraft with long-range capability and an internal weapons bay.

As an interim solution, Japan decided to acquire 42 Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the first of which are slated for induction into the JASDF at the end of 2016.

Japan has a long-standing interest in acquiring a twin-engined stealth aircraft with long-range capability and internally-stowed missiles, according to the people with knowledge of the F-3 program.

The only aircraft now in service that meets those requirements was Lockheed’s F-22 but the F-22 is no longer in production.

SOURCES- Reuter, The Diplomat