Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, has been selected by Japan’s Ministry of Defence as its air self-defence force’s (JASDF) next-generation fighter aircraft.
The F-35 Lightning II was selected in the F-X competitive bid process against the US F/A-18 Super Hornet and the European-designed Eurofighter to replace JASDF’s aging F-4 planes.
The initial contract awarded to Lockheed will be for four F-35A conventional take-off and landing variant (CTOL) aircraft and will be effective from 1 April 2012.
The stealthy, supersonic, multirole F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) is equipped with an electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) that provides long-range detection and precision targeting.
The F-35 is equipped with advanced efficient, higher-capacity avionics and is designed to replace the A-10, the AV-8 Harrier, the F-16 and the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
The joint strike fighter (JSF) is also equipped with Northrop Grumman’s distributed aperture system (DAS) thermal imaging technology.
According to the Japan MoD, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHI would also participate in the production of the F-35 jet along with principal industrial partners, Northrop and the BAE Systems development team.
The F-35 programme consists of nine partner nations that include the US, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway.
The company has already received orders from the UK and the Netherlands for the test aircraft, while Italy and Australia have agreed to provide long-lead funding for their initial operational aircraft.
The fighter jet has also been selected by the Israeli Air Force as its next-generation fighter and will be procured through the US Government’s foreign military sales route.
Image Caption: The fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighter combines advanced stealth capability with fighter speed and agility.