US and Japanese officials have discussed Japan’s plan to upgrade its air force with the purchase of 42 F-35 fighter jets, US State Department said Thursday.
The topic was part of a wide-ranging discussion on political-military issues when US Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro Wednesday met Hideo Suzuki, director general of acquisition reform from Japan’s ministry of defense.
“We are committed to working with our Japanese allies to help them develop the air power assets. Japan needs to meet 21st century challenges, contribute to its own self-defense and contribute to alliance missions in a manner that is both effective and efficient,” the State Department said.
Japan hopes to have the F-35 fighters, the fifth generation multi-role and stealth fighter jets made by US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, delivered by fiscal year 2016 to replace its aging fleet F-4 Phantoms.
US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told his Japanese counterpart Naoki Tanaka late last month that the deployment of F-35 fighter jets would be partially postponed due to US defense spending cuts, which raised concerns in Japan about a price rise of the jets.
Japan’s defense ministry said the total cost of the 42 F-35 fighters, including maintenance and operation expenditures, would exceed 1.6 trillion yen ($20.8 billion) over the next 20 years.