Military Aviation

Japan pays $33 million more for each locally built F-35A stealth fighter aircraft

The price of each F-35A depends greatly on the foreign exchange rate of each fiscal year and the difference in procurement methods between importing completed F-35s from the U.S. and assembling F-35s in the Japanese FACO facility

According to Jane’s, Japan is paying an extra $33 million to assemble a F-35A at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) final assembly and check out (FACO) facility in Nagoya, more than importing the same aircraft from the U.S.

The publication quoted a Japanese defense official as saying that price of each jet “depends greatly on the foreign exchange rate of each fiscal year [and] the difference in procurement methods between importing completed F-35s from the US and assembling F-35s in the Japanese FACO facility.”

The official explained that in fiscal year 2012 when Japan first ordered the F-35 through the import of completed aircraft the exchange rate was JPY81 per USD1, and that this resulted in the unit cost of imported F-35s reaching JPY9.6 billion (or USD90.1 million at constant 2018).

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has ordered 42 F-35As, with the initial four aircraft to be imported from the United States – the first of which was handed over to the force in late 2016. The remaining 38 F-35As are to be assembled and delivered from the FACO facility. The first of these aircraft was rolled out in June 2017.

The F-35A is the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the fifth generation stealth aircraft.

However as we have previously reported JASDF intends to replace some aging F-15Js with the F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant and defense officials are mulling the exact number to buy in the next Medium Term Defense Program.

The Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) is barred from deploying military aircraft to Shimochijima airport, which has the longest runway in the Ryukyu Islands. Therefore, defense officials are thinking of using the F-35B at airports with shorter runways.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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