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.
Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com
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