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Northrop Grumman positions for Japan’s F-2 replacement programme

12 July 2018
Northrop Grumman has responded to a Japanese request for information in support of a programme to replace the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Mitsubishi F-2 fighters. Source: Japanese Air Self-Defense Force

Northrop Grumman is looking to engage with Japan in meeting its requirement to acquire or develop a next-generation fighter aircraft to replace the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Mitsubishi F-2 platform.

A spokesperson from Northrop Grumman confirmed to Jane’s on 11 July that the company had responded to the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s (MoD’s) most recent request for information (RFI) to support the programme.

While the US corporation did not provide any details about its response, official sources cited by local media in Japan said Northrop Grumman has offered the MoD a menu of advanced aerospace technologies that could feasibly be integrated into a new fighter aircraft.

In supporting its bid Northrop Grumman is also likely to have approached Japanese defence companies with a view to collaborating on the aerospace technologies, although the corporation gave no related details about its engagement with local industry.

In addition to Northrop Grumman, Jane’s understands that Japan is also considering RFI responses from companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and BAE Systems. The Japanese MoD’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA) issued the most recent RFI for the programme in March; the third such request since 2016.

Lockheed Martin has previously confirmed to Jane’s that its offering is based on “fifth-generation” fighter aircraft technologies sourced from two of the corporation’s frontline fighter platforms: the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II. The RFI responses submitted by Boeing and BAE Systems are most likely based on technologies sourced from the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Eurofighter Typhoon respectively.

ATLA officials have recently told Jane’s that the agency is considering several F-2 replacement options. These include the joint development of a new aircraft with an international manufacturer; licensed production of an existing foreign design through government-to-government channels; the development of an indigenous platform; or a programme to upgrade and refurbish the F-2, which Mitsubishi stopped producing in 2011.

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