Japan picks F-35 as next-generation fighter jet

Updated: 2011-12-20 11:12


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TOKYO - The Japanese government made a formal decision on Tuesday to choose the F-35 stealth jet, which is being developed by the United States and eight other countries, as the country's next-generation fighter jets.

Japan picks F-35 as next-generation fighter jet

F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), planes arrive at Edwards Air Force Base in California in this May 2010 file handout photo. Japan has picked Lockheed Martin's F-35 as its next mainstay fighter, Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa said on December 20, 2011.[Photo/Agencies]

The Security Council of Japan, presided over by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, made the final decision by taking into consideration the key factors including the aircraft's performance and cost, according to government officials.

Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, which had been reviewed along with Boeing's FA-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon, will replace the country's 40-year-old fleet of F-4's.

While the US took its F-4's out of service in 1996 following a successful deployment during the Gulf War, Japan continued to use the 40-year-old jets for training and reconnaissance missions.

Of the short-listed jets, all three offer superlative air-to- air and air-to-ground capabilities and can carry impressive payloads of ordnance. The F-35 has the added advantage of being able to greatly reduce its signature on radar due to its stealth- capable technologies.

Japan plans to include the cost of four F-35s in the draft budget for fiscal 2012, beginning in April. As many as 40 new fighter jets are believed to be acquired by the Japanese government.  

Critics in the country are concerned about the potential increase of costs as the jet, which is priced about $104 million per plane, is still under development.