U.S. approves sale of 105 F-35 stealth fighters to Japan
The United States announced in early July 2020 that it has approved the sale of 105 F-35 stealth aircraft to Japan for an estimated U.S. $23.11 billion.
Japan asked to buy 63 F-35A, pictured, the traditional version of the electronics-laden fighter aircraft, and 42 F-35B, the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version for aircraft carriers, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
The transaction will improve “the security of a major ally” in the Indo-Pacific region, the statement noted: “It is vital to U.S. national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability.”102
Japan’s 2020-21 defense budget is a record U.S. $50.3 billion, aimed at funding purchases of fighter jets and missile defense as the country eyes the threat from North Korea and China.
In response to the rapid modernization of the Chinese military, Japan has decided to acquire 105 F-35A aircraft over the next decade, in addition to 42 F-35B aircraft.
At the end of 2018, the Japanese government approved a five-year defense plan that includes the conversion of two Izumo class vessels to operate the new aircraft.