Contract negotiations indicate Japanese move towards JSF
By Jon Grevatt
Japan is negotiating a contract with the United States that will provide Tokyo with sensitive information about the systems and performance of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as it seeks to evaluate the aircraft in a bid to procure a next-generation fighter (FX) for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
A source at the Japanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) told Jane's on 6 October that the contract is expected to be signed shortly. Although the value of the deal is not significant (it is understood by Jane's to be worth around USD11 million), the development signals a clear move by Japan towards the JSF - and away from the F-22 Raptor - as a platform to meet its FX requirement.
The source said: "Regarding the selection of the FX, the MoD is studying the performance of various aircraft. ... As part of this process, the MoD has been requesting the US government to provide us with information on fifth-generation fighters."
The source stressed, however, that the "contract for provision of information" did not mean that it had already selected the JSF.
Other aircraft on Japan's FX shortlist include Dassault's Rafale, Eurofighter's Typhoon, Boeing's F/A-18E/F and F-15FX, and Lockheed Martin's F-22.
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