The Japanese government is in talks with BAE Systems to jointly develop a next-generation fighter.
A formal agreement is expected between the Japanese Ministry of Defense and the British defense manufacturer by year’s end, according to Japanese publication The Sankei Shimbun.
The F-X will be the successor of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F2 fighter jet. The F2 is jointly manufactured by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin.
BAE Systems Replaces Lockheed
The development reflects a change of policy of the Japanese government which had earlier agreed with Lockheed Martin’s proposal for a “hybrid design based on its F-35 and F-22 jets.”
However, over the last two years, there has been a “lack of coordination” with Lockheed on the project, the outlet revealed.
“It was difficult to coordinate with Lockheed Martin, and after gaining the understanding of the US government, it decided to switch the main axis to the United Kingdom,” the outlet wrote, adding that “cost” and “high degree of confidentiality,” were some of the major sticking issues.
$48 Billion Project
Mitsubishi is the primary developer of the aircraft which is expected to be fielded by the mid-2030s.
The project is expected to cost over 5 trillion yen ($48 billion) and 90 twin-engine aircraft are expected to be produced, capable of mounting six internal weapons.
Japanese shipbuilding corporation IHI Corporation and British company Rolls Royce are expected to collaborate on engine manufacturing.
Lockheed Martin and Italian companies — one of them likely to be Leonardo — are also expected to play some role in the F-X project, the outlet revealed without elaborating further.