Will Japan get its hands on a slice of the JSF consortium's pie?

Will Japan get its hands on a slice of the JSF consortium's pie? (Source: Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin is currently competing against Boeing and the Eurofighter Consortium to get the Japanese Ministry of Defense to choose the F-35 over the FA-18 Super Hornet and Typhoon, despite countless setbacks. One of the main issues concerning the Japanese stems from the Ministry’s need to keep Japan’s main fighter manufacturers tooled up for future fighters so they want to have the fighters built for the most part within Japan, although cost is also against Lockheed’s bid. Tonight, a tweet by @samlagrone mentioned that Jane’s Industry Desk is reporting “Lockheed Martin will build a plant in Japan if their MoD selects the F-35 for F-X”. Without a several hundred dollar membership fee, I cannot confirm the article or link, but this seems like something that was discussed back in 2009. Just in case, here are some extracts from a FlightGlobal article from back in July 2009:

Sources close to Lockheed and the Japanese government say the proposal is similar to the final assembly and check out facility offered to Italy, and would fulfil Tokyo’s wish to have a domestic production capability to support its indigenous industry as part of a next-generation F-X fighter procurement.


The primary contractor in Japan is likely to be Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which already works with Lockheed on the F-2 fighter. It is not certain if Japan would want its companies to manufacture parts for domestic F-35s, but industry sources say this is likely to be a more contentious issue among other JSF partners.

Alenia Aeronautica will operate Italy’s F-35 final assembly facility at Cameri air base under Lockheed’s control, with the site likely to be capable of completing two aircraft per month.

Major sections of the airframe, systems and avionics will arrive from partner companies, with Alenia producing the wings. Italian personnel will also apply low radar cross-section coatings at Cameri and conduct flight-test and delivery activities.

Production will run until around 2022, with the Netherlands’ F-35s also likely to be assembled in Italy. The facility is also planned to become a long-term maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade facility for European operators of the JSF, and a similar model could apply to the Japanese factory, the sources say.

Read the full article at FlightGlobal, and if anyone comes across a release from Lockheed regarding Jane’s report, let us know.

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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch