TOKYO --- Northrop Grumman Corp is eyeing a Japanese jet fighter project that could pit it against Lockheed Martin Corp, three sources said, almost three decades after it lost a similar competition to build an advanced stealth jet for the U.S. Air Force.
“Northrop is interested,” said one of the sources, who has direct knowledge of the plans. Northrop has already responded to Japanese requests for information (RFI) and has held preliminary talks with Japanese defense industry officials, he said.
Northrop Grumman has provided Japan with a menu of technologies it could contribute to the next-generation F-3 fighter project, but not yet made any specific proposals to Japan, the sources said.
The sources declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The company’s bid would compete with Lockheed Martin proposals that include a hybrid stealth design based on its F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor. The F-22 beat Northrop’s YF-23 Black Widow demonstrator to win the lucrative U.S. Advanced Tactical Fighter contract in 1991.
The F-22 is banned for export and is only used by the U.S. Air Force. But Japan has ordered 42 F-35s to upgrade aging fighters whose designs date back to the 1970s. It plans to increase that order, including purchases of the vertical take off and landing (VTOL) versions suitable for aircraft carrier operations.
Northrop Grumman was unable to immediately comment. (end of excerpt)
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