A former editor for Jane’s writes this one about India’s fighter program, and how a program similar to Japan’s F-X program can spend just as much money but buy up to three times’ as many planes.

As the Indian competition glides towards a verdict (expected by June 2011), Japan’s fighter procurement remains stalled on the tarmac. After repeated delays, Japanese business leaders had been talking up the prospect of Tokyo finally issuing the long-delayed request for proposals for its future fighter program, dubbed F-X, this October.

Issuing the request for proposal (RfP) now could have led to a decision being made in a year’s time and the first aircraft touching down in around 2016.

But it’s not going to happen. The government – itself in a state of constant flux – is currently rethinking the country’s National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG); the update is due for publication in December. This ought not to have interfered with the F-X RfP. Japan has a fleet of 40-year-old F-4s that it desperately needs to replace: these will soon be fit for scrap whatever Japan’s new defense policy says. However, the F-X programme has fallen victim to Japan’s wider political malaise. The Ministry of Defense declined to say when the RfP would finally emerge, but it now looks like being 2011 at the earliest. (Link)


Now, [Japan] is poised to make all the wrong choices when it procures its new fighter. Despite emphasizing, like India, the importance of technology transfer and the need for local industry involvement, it may end up securing neither. Its requirement of only 40 or 50 F-X fighters does not create the economies of scale needed to set up a local production line, and Tokyo is in no position, like India, to demand extensive technology transfer and bargain prices.

When someone compares your procurement program to India’s and India’s comes out ahead, it’s time for some serious reform.

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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