US defense contractor Lockheed Martin plans to offer Japan a stealth fighter design based on its export-banned F-22 Raptor and advanced F-35 Lightning II aircraft, two sources said.
Lockheed has discussed the idea with Japanese Ministry of Defense officials and would make a formal proposal in response to a Japanese request for information after it receives permission from the US government to offer the sensitive military technology, said the sources, who have direct knowledge of the proposal.
The decision on whether to release parts of the highly classified aircraft designs and software to help Japan stay ahead of Chinese advances would test US President Donald Trump’s promise to overhaul Washington’s arms export policy.
The proposed aircraft “would combine the F-22 and F-35, and could be superior to both of them,” one of the sources said.
Japan, which is already buying the stealthy F-35 to modernize its inventory, also wants to introduce a separate air superiority fighter in the 2030s to deter intrusions into its airspace by Chinese and Russian jets.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force operates the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries F-15J, based on the Boeing F-15, and the Mitsubishi F-2, based on the Lockheed Martin F-16. Both designs are decades old.
Japan’s ambition to build its own stealth fighter was in part spurred by Washington’s refusal a decade ago to sell it the twin-engine F-22, which is still considered the world’s best air superiority fighter.
Although the Japanese stealth aircraft program, dubbed the F-3, was conceived as a domestic effort estimated to cost about US$40 billion, Tokyo has recently sought international collaboration in a bid to share the expense and gain access to technology it would otherwise have to develop from scratch.
However, any aircraft built with international partners must have Japanese-designed engines and radar and feature other components made locally, the other source said.
Mitsubishi tested a prototype stealth jet in 2016 that cost the Japanese government US$350 million to develop.
“We are considering domestic development, joint development and the possibility of improving existing aircraft performance, but we have not yet come to any decision,” a ministry spokesman said yesterday.
The Japanese government last month issued a third request for information for the F-3 to foreign defense companies and sent a separate document outlining its requirements in more detail to the British and US governments.
In addition to a proposal from Lockheed Martin, Japan is hoping for responses from Boeing Co, which makes the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet multi-role fighter, and BAE Systems, which is part of the consortium that built the Eurofighter Typhoon high-altitude interceptor.
“We look forward to exploring options for Japan’s F-2 replacement fighter in cooperation with both the Japanese and US governments,” a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said. “Our leadership and experience in fifth-generation aircraft can be leveraged to cost-effectively provide capabilities to meet Japan’s future security needs.”
Boeing and BAE did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South