Currently Japan deploys about 200 F-15s. About half the fleet has been overhauled, but the 100 or so fighters being eyed for a sale cannot receive upgrades
The news report says talks are underway and that Washington may sell those fighters to South East Asian nations at cheap prices.
The move could help Japan defray the costs of buying more F-35s and help boost the combat capability of some South East Asian countries.
By arranging such a sale with Washington, Tokyo hopes to quell public criticism of expanding defense spending amid efforts for fiscal consolidation. Turning to Washington would also help Japan, as it lacks experience in selling defense equipment to third countries.
Japan’s roughly 200 F-15s form the core of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) air defense capabilities. About half the fleet has been overhauled, including updates to electronic equipment, but the 100 or so fighters being eyed for a sale cannot receive upgrades. The government decided at a cabinet meeting last Tuesday to gradually swap these out for more capable F-35s.
The oldest of the F-15s were first deployed in the early 1980s. But even they can be kept in working condition if parts are replaced as needed.
As we have previously reported Japan’s government intends to buy another 100 F-35 fighters and the order could include the B-variant. This will allow Japan to operate the F-35 from its Izumo-class warships.
Japan’s neighbors are busy introducing their own advanced military aircraft. China deployed its J-20 stealth fighter in February, and by 2030 some experts expect the country to build a fleet of more than 250 fifth-generation jets – as the latest generation of fighters like the F-35 is known.
Russia, too, is expected to introduce its fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57 in 2019, at the earliest.
To keep up, Tokyo believes it is imperative to significantly increase its procurement of the most sophisticated stealth jets.
In September, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Trump, “Introducing high-performance equipment, including American [materiel], is important for our country to strengthen its defense capabilities.”
Photo credit: Ssgt. James R. Ferguson / U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com