TOKYO --- Japan plans to buy at least 20 additional F-35A stealth fighters over the next six years, some or all of which it may purchase directly from Lockheed Martin Corp in the United States rather than assemble locally, three sources said.
“In view of budgets and production schedules a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the plan. The sources asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The sources said buying complete aircraft from the United States, at about $100 million each, will save Japan about $30 million per airframe.
The purchase will add to an earlier order for 42 of the fighters, most of which are being constructed at a “final assembly and check out” plant in Japan operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the country’s leading defense contractor.
That plant is one of only two such factories outside the United States. The other, in Italy, is operated by Leonardo Spa. (ends)
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