The [Japanese] Defense Ministry views Lockheed Martin Corp. as the leading candidate to develop fighter jets to succeed the F-2 fighters in the Air Self-Defense Force, according to government sources.
(The Japanese government in March issued a third Request for Information to foreign defense companies, and sent a separate document outlining its requirements in more detail to the British and United States governments, Reuters reported in April.—Ed.)
Lockheed, fellow major American defense contractor Boeing Co. and Britain’s BAE Systems PLC submitted their proposals on developing a successor to the F-2 to the ministry on Friday.
Though the ministry favors Lockheed’s plan, it is carefully examining the three proposals as the price presented by Lockheed was higher than the initial estimate.
According to the government sources, Lockheed’s plan is to develop the new fighters based on the F-22, which are the U.S. Air Force’s high-performing stealth fighters. The proposal calls for the installment of electronic devices that are used in F-35 fighter jets, which are part of the ASDF fleet, in the new fighters. The plan assumes that Japan and the United States will jointly develop the new aircraft.
Boeing’s plan is to use F-15 fighters, which are the ASDF’s mainstay fighters, as the basis of the new fighters, which will have partial stealth capabilities through joint Japan-U.S. development.
BAE Systems’ plan will have Japan and Britain jointly developing the new fighters by utilizing technologies applied to Typhoon fighters, which are the British Royal Air Force’s mainstay fighter jets. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Japan’s “Defense Ministry plans to push for join development to involve Japanese companies, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,” the Nikkei Asian Review reported July 14. “A purely Japanese fighter is probably off the table owing to high costs and technological challenges. A potential British-Japan fighter project is also being discussed.
“Japan is looking to make a final decision within this year to include the plan in an updated defense plan taking effect from fiscal 2019.”)