Japan is looking to buy 105 US-made F-35 stealth fighter jets, US President Donald Trump has said during his visit to Tokyo.
If the sale goes through, Tokyo would have the largest F-35 fleet of any US ally.
Addressing a joint presser with Japan Prime Minister Abe, Trump said: “In 2018, Japan was one of the world’s top purchasers of American defence equipment, and it has just announced its intent to purchase 105 brand new F-35 stealth aircraft. Stealth, because, the fact is you can’t see them.
“The US supports Japan’s efforts to improve its defence capabilities, and in recent months, we have greatly expedited the sale of large amounts of defence equipment to Japan, made in the US.”
The F-35A conventional take-off and landing variant is the next-generation fighter for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).
Japan reached a deal in December 2011 to procure 42 F-35As following the F-X competitive bid process.
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In December, the Japan Ministry of Defense stated that it would buy additional aircraft to take the total procurement of F-35s to 147.
The additional 105 aircraft are expected to comprise 63 F-35As and 42 F-35B short take-off / vertical landing variants.
Japan selected the F-35 to replace its ageing F-4 and the additional 105 units will replace pre-multistage improvement programme F-15J aircraft.
The fifth-generation fighter aircraft bring to the fore capabilities such as very low observable stealth coupled with full fighter performance, advanced sensors and sensor fusion, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.
Procurement of these Lockheed Martin-built jets is expected to deliver significant capabilities to Japan to achieve conventional deterrence and promote stability in the region.
In addition to the US, the global F-35 programme includes eight original partner nations and three foreign military sale (FMS) customers, namely Israel, the Republic of Korea and Belgium.