TOKYO --- Japan intends to continue assembling F-35 stealth fighters domestically, reversing plans to import the finished aircraft from the U.S., Nikkei has learned.
Since Tokyo adopted the F-35A fighter jet in fiscal 2011 under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program, Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has assembled and conducted final checks on aircraft sold to the country by Lockheed Martin.
But the costly process prompted a decision by Tokyo to import finished F-35s starting with new contracts made in fiscal 2019, which began in April. Japan's cabinet approved plans at the end of 2018 to buy another 105 F-35s, including 42 F-35Bs, which are capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.
However, Tokyo looks to reverse that decision after Mitsubishi Heavy revamped its assembly process to reduce costs.
Finishing one F-35 in Japan is now expected to cost 9.37 billion yen ($86.3 million), compared with 9.42 billion yen to ship the plane from the U.S., according to Japan's Defense Ministry. The cabinet is expected to approve the domestic production plan soon. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Nikkei website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Japan is currently assembling the 24 F-35A fighters it has ordered, and has budgeted $612 million for the six aircraft it is buying from Mitsubishi in this financial year, or $102 million each.
The new price of $86.3 million quoted above is about 20% cheaper.)