Northrop Grumman wants to help Japan build next generation F-3 fighter

Northrop Grumman wants to help Japan build its next generation fighter

By Dario Leone
Jul 10 2018
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Northrop Grumman’s bid would compete with Lockheed Martin proposals that include a hybrid stealth design based on its F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor

Three anonymous sources told Reuters that Northrop Grumman is interested in helping Japan build its replacement for the F-2 fighter.

Northrop has already responded to Japanese requests for information and has held preliminary talks with Japanese defense industry officials, one source said.

The company has provided Japan with a menu of technologies it could contribute to next generation F-3 fighter project, but no specific proposals were made to Japan, the sources said.

Noteworthy the company’s bid would compete with Lockheed Martin proposals that include a hybrid stealth design based on its F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor. The YF-22 beat Northrop’s YF-23 Black Widow demonstrator to win the lucrative U.S. Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) contract in 1991.

However both Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin would need U.S. government approval to offer sensitive aircraft technology to Japan.

The F-22 is banned for export and is only used by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). But Japan has ordered 42 F-35s and it plans to increase that order, including purchases of the vertical take off and landing (VTOL) versions suitable for aircraft carrier operations.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) currently flies the F-15J, based on the Boeing F-15; and the F-2, based on the Lockheed Martin F-16. Both designs are decades old.

“We look forward to exploring options for Japan’s F-2 replacement fighter in cooperation with both the Japanese and U.S. governments. Our leadership and experience in 5th generation aircraft can be leveraged to cost-effectively provide capabilities to meet Japan’s future security needs,” a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said.

As we have already explained, in March the Japanese government issued a third RFI for the F-3 to foreign defense companies and sent a separate document outlining its requirements in more detail to the British and U.S. governments.

In addition to a proposal from Lockheed and Northrop Grumman, Japan is hoping for responses from Boeing, which makes the F/A-18 Super Hornet, and BAE Systems, that is part of the consortium that built the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Japan’s last jet fighter, the F-2, which entered service in 2000, was built jointly by Mitsubishi and Lockheed Martin.

Northrop Grumman wants to help Japan build next generation F-3 fighter
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-22A Raptor 192nd Fighter Wing, 149th Fighter Squadron, FF/04-4082 – Langley AFB, VA – 2014

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

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Dario Leone

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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