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Japan, US mull servicing US F-15, F-16 aircraft

USAF personnel conduct localised maintenance of a Lockheed Martin F-16 at Misawa Air Base, in Japan, in 2014. In this image, personnel are preparing to install a canopy on the aircraft. (US Air Force)

Japan and the US are considering a plan to maintain and overhaul the US Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15 and Lockheed Martin F-16 combat aircraft in the Asian country. Defence officials from the countries are set to discuss the potential project at a new bilateral forum on defence industry co-operation to be held in Japan in mid-June, according to the US Department of Defense (DoD).

The new Forum on Defense Industrial Cooperation, Acquisition and Sustainment (DICAS) will examine opportunities for deeper industrial collaboration between the two countries, a Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesperson told Janes. “This forum includes the sustainment of US Navy (USN) vessels and air force aircraft at Japanese commercial facilities,” the spokesperson said, adding that details about the overhaul project have yet to be decided.

The forum will be conducted by US Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante and Masaki Fukasawa, commissioner of Japan's Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA), the DoD said.

Japan's MoD said there are several benefits to sustaining US naval vessels and USAF aircraft in Japan. “In general, conducting maintenance and repairs in Japan on US Navy vessels and US Air Force aircraft deployed in the vicinity of Japan, without them returning to mainland US, will contribute to strengthening Japan's defence production and technological bases,” the MoD spokesperson said.

Such maintenance and repair work will also improve “the readiness of US forces by shortening the repair period and increasing efficiency”, the spokesperson said, adding that this would improve the “deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US alliance”.

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