US Green-Lights Sale of 105 F-35 Fighters to Japan for $23 Billion

The second-largest foreign military sale ever by the US is aimed at augmenting the East Asian country’s operational aircraft inventory and enhancing its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Photo: Lockheed Martin

The US State Department has approved the proposed sale of 105 F-35 fighters and related equipment to Japan as part of a package worth an estimated $23 billion, which would be the second-largest foreign military sale ever by the US. 

In a statement, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Japan requested 63 of the F-35A conventional take-off-and-landing (CTOL) aircraft and 42 of the F-35B short-take-off-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) aircraft, along with 110 Pratt and Whitney F135 engines. Japan is said to be ordering the F-35Bs for its two Izumo-class aircraft carriers.

"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region,” the DSCA said. "It is vital to U.S. national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability,” the DSCA said.

"The proposed sale of aircraft and support will augment Japan’s operational aircraft inventory and enhance its air-to-air and air-to-ground self-defense capability.  The Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-4 aircraft are being decommissioned as F-35s are added to the inventory.  Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft into its armed forces," the agency added

The fifth-generation fighters will come with an electronic warfare and command system; control, communications, computers and intelligence, navigation and identification system; the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Global Support System; the F-35 Autonomic Logistics Information System; a flight mission trainer; and F-35 unique infrared flares.

Along with Israel, South Korea, Belgium and Poland, Japan is one of the five countries that have purchased the F-35. 

The prime contractors for the deal will be Lockheed Martin, which produces the F-35, and Pratt and Whitney Military Engines.

The largest foreign military sale by the US in history was the $29.4 billion sale of Boeing F-15SA fighters and associated weapons to Saudi Arabia in 2010.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense announced in December 2018 that it had decided to procure the F-35s in addition to an existing order of 42 F-35As.

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