June 5, 2017
TOYOYAMA AICHI PREF.- The first F-35A cutting-edge stealth fighter assembled in Japan was unveiled at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. factory in Toyoyama in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan, on Monday.
The Air Self-Defense Force plans to deploy the F-35A unit by the end of fiscal 2017 through March next year at its Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
The F-35 was jointly developed by nine countries, including the United States, Britain and Australia. Lockheed Martin Corp. is the main manufacturer.
Japanese companies did not join the F-35 development, but they take part in assembly and some other manufacturing processes.
The ASDF plans to procure a total of 42 units. Four of them will be supplied as finished products under the US government's Foreign Military Sales program.
Mitsubishi Heavy will assemble the remaining 38 units from components imported from the United States.
The first F-35A unit assembled in Japan will be used for flight training for ASDF pilots that will be conducted in the United States.
The F-35A, which is 11 meters wide and 16 meters long, is equipped with advanced sensor equipment that is believed to have missile detection and tracking capabilities.
IHI Corp. produces engine parts for F-35A jets that will be supplied to the ASDF, while Mitsubishi Electric Corp. chiefly covers radar parts production.
The countries that plan to introduce F-35 jets have adopted a system to share parts, including those made in Japan.
In 2013, Japan excluded home-manufactured F-35 parts from its arms export ban, saying that Japanese companies' participation in the F-35 production is indispensable for maintaining fighter jet operation and maintenance bases in the country. (Jiji Press)
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