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Japan plans to acquire 40 F-35 combat aircraft

The F-35 fighter aircraft.

TOKYO (BNS): To add teeth to its airpower, Japan is planning to acquire about 40 F-35 fighter aircraft, the official process for which will start in December this year, the country’s official news agency Kyodo has reported.

The Defence Ministry will begin a full-scale process in December to acquire the F-35s, with a view to making budgetary requests for necessary expenses in the fiscal 2011 state budget, the report said quoting sources.

However, the ministry may postpone making budgetary requests for F-35-related expenses until 2012 budget due to a view in the government that a contract should not be concluded before confirming “the actual capabilities of the fighter jet,” which is expected to be deployed around the middle of the 2010s, it said.

The F-35 fighters, with their stealth features and capabilities to evade radar detection, are likely to be the mainstay of Japan’s next-generation fighter airpower in the wake of China giving fillip to its air force by developing a next-generation aircraft, the report said.

Each F-35 combat aircraft would cost Japan about 9 billion yen (over $100-mn).

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