Japan has requested to buy 105 F-35 fifth-generation fighters under a deal that could potentially be worth $23.1 billion and include 42 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B jets.
In addition to F-35A and F-35B jets, the price tag includes 110 Pratt and Whitney F135 engines, electronic warfare systems, flares and other related equipment.
The US State Department approved Japan’s purchase and notified the US Congress of the potential sale on July 9.
Japan already operates the F-35A variant which is gradually replacing the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-4 aircraft.
The purchase of the STOVL variant would be a first for the country after it announced its intention to do so in 2019. Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force has already started the process of converting its two Izumo-class helicopter destroyers into platforms capable of carrying and operating the F-35B. With the purchase, Japan would join the US Marine Corps, UK Royal Air Force and Navy, and the Italian Navy in operating the STOVL aircraft. Italy and UK will operate the F-35B from their aircraft carriers, while the US Marine Corps jets fly from the Wasp and America-class amphibious assault ships.
Worth noting is the fact that Japan would become the second-largest operator of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter after the US, should the deal be finalized. Japan previously ordered 45 F-35A but lost one aircraft in a crash over the Pacific Ocean in April 2019.
The prime contractors would be Lockheed Martin, and Pratt and Whitney.