Japan narrows down choices for next-generation fighter to 3
Thursday 14th April, 06:11 AM JST
The Defense Ministry has narrowed down its selection of Japan’s next-generation jet fighter for the Air Self-Defense Force to three choices, ministry officials said Wednesday.
The candidates are the F-35 fighter, which involves an international consortium of developers such as from the United States and Britain, the F/A-18 from the United States, and the Eurofighter from Europe.
In a meeting with officials from the U.S and British governments as well as developers, the ministry briefed them about the necessary capabilities and specifications Japan is looking for in the new fighters to succeed its aging F-4 planes.
The ministry is expected to make the selection by the end of this year, after receiving proposals from the manufacturers of the three aircraft by late September. It is aiming to secure a fiscal 2012 budget to procure several jets.
The ministry’s criteria for choosing the aircraft are performance, such as stealth and information-processing capabilities, maintenance and other costs involved, level of participation of domestic firms, and support systems after the purchase of the fighters.
To promote local firms, the ministry had set a minimum requirement for the fighters to undergo final assembly in Japan, the officials said.
The ministry is ultimately considering acquisition of about 40 units, they said.
Despite the expected worsening of Japan’s finances, one of the officials stressed the need to buy new planes.