The Japanese Government has awarded the first set of contracts to three domestic companies for participation in the joint production of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft for the national air self-defence force.
Valued at a combined JPY87.7bn ($894m), the contracts will see IHI Corp and Mitsubishi Electric manufacturing engine and radar parts, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will lead the final assembly process, GlobalPost reports citing a Japan Defence Ministry statement.
The contract values of MHI, IHI and Mitsubishi Electric are JPY63.9bn ($651m), JPY18.2bn ($185m) and JPY5.6bn ($57m) respectively.
The contracts follow the government’s decision announced in March this year, to allow local companies to join F-35 parts production on the condition that the US will strictly control shipments.
With plans to purchase a total of 42 F-35s for introduction as the country’s next-generation mainstay fighter, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has already negotiated the acquisition of two aircraft with US under the fiscal 2013 state budget, according to the news agency.
Acquired at an estimated cost of JPY23bn ($234m), the aircraft are scheduled to arrive in Japan in March 2018.
JASDF intends to use four F-35 fighters, which are scheduled to be purchased by March 2017, for pilot training purpose in the US.
Currently under development in three variants by Lockheed Martin, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.
The variants include a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft for USAF and allied air forces, a short takeoff and landing (STOVL) fighter for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and the Royal Navy, and a carrier version (CV) for the US Navy.
Image: Japan intends to acquire a total of 42 F-35 fighter aircraft from US. Photo: file image.