This is hardly unexpected.

The ministry has narrowed down its choice of aircraft to replace Japan’s aging F-4 fighters to three types — the F-35 stealth fighter, the Eurofighter, and the F/A-18 — but delays in the development of its primary choice, the F-35, have prompted officials to delay seeking budget funds for their purchase.

The ministry has feared a reduction in Japan’s defense capabilities due to the aging of its F-4 fighters. The jets are used in two flying corps in Japan, which together operate about 40 of the aircraft. Including reserve aircraft, the ministry is expected to acquire 50 to 60 new fighters. (Link)

The program is already several years behind schedule and the first ASDF F-4 Phantom is now about 39 years old. Picking anything now would show more leadership and decisiveness than further delays.

(H/T: ELP Defens(c)e Blog)

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch