Lockheed’s F-35 Customers Grow As Japan Selects It For New Fighter

by: Matthew Potter
December 20, 2011

Category: Boeing, Business Line, Companies, Congress, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, Countries, development program, Events, Japan, Lockheed Martin, Military Aviation, production program, Services | RSS 2.0

The Japanese government announced overnight that they have chosen the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter manufactured by Lockheed Martin (LMT) to be their new fighter aircraft. The advanced aircraft will replace some of the F-15J fighters that have been in service since the Eighties. The F-35 was in competition with Boeing’s (BA) F/A-18 and Eurofighter’s Typhoon aircraft.

Japan joins the list of foreign partners in the the program which is the largest acquisition program in history. Along with the United States the F-35 will also be used by the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia and Norway. It is designed to replace the majority of the F-16, F/A-18 and AV-8 aircraft used by these countries as well as the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Ultimately the F-35 will be built in the thousands and serve until the middle of this century.

As with many of the purchasing countries Japanese industry will be able to help build parts and components of the F-35 and assist in the assembly if a deal can be worked out. This approach worked out well for the F-16 and the F-35 is trying to mirror that. Some of the buyers also invested their own R&D funds up front for the aircraft.

The F-35 program has seen struggles with its costs and schedule since its inception. Currently the U.S. has ordered five production lots of the aircraft but a recent assessment found more issues that will have to be worked out through development indicating that there remains a great deal of concurrent risk with the program.

Photo from ngotoh’s flickr photostream.

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