F-35. Department of Defense photo.

The U.S. Department of Defense, saying that Japan wants data on the F-35 “above and beyond” what is normally provided about the aircraft, says that a security pact is needed before such information is released. The F-35 is a leading candidate for Japan’s F-X program to replace ancient F-4J Phantom fighters.

“They (Japan) are going to have to enter into a JSF security agreement with us,” he said. “The ball is in their court right now in terms of looking at the draft agreement. And so we’re waiting to hear back from them.” (Link)

Hmm, why would Japan want information like that? Possibly to Japan-ize it with locally produced systems. Japan has said it would like to produce some F-X fighters locally, and incorporate Japanese electronics, in order to give the Japanese fighter industrial base something to do after F-2 procurement ends in 2011. However, as the article points out, Israel wants to do much the same thing, but systems integration in the F-35 is so tight incorporating outside electronics and hardware would prove difficult.

Israel would be the first buyer outside the co-development partners. The deal has been held up by, among other things, a tug-of-war over Israel’s preference for building in its own electronic warfare, communications and other systems.

Genaille voiced a continuing U.S. reluctance to fiddle with the F-35 even though a top Pentagon program official last year had spoken of stitching in Israeli-built command, control, communications, computer and intelligence systems for a unique version of the jet for sale to Israel.

“The F-35 is a system where all these subsystems are fused and integrated,” Genaille told the summit. “And integrating something that wasn’t originally planned in the design will be very costly and will take a significant amount of time.”

It will be interesting to see which flavor of the F-35 Japan wants to pursue. Interest in the CTOL or STOVL versions would be telling.

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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