x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Japan signs deal for 42 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets

The cost of the first four has been budgeted in the next fiscal year, starting in April, said Noriyuki Shikata, the deputy cabinet secretary for public relations.

TOKYO // Japan's government has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter to bolster its ageing air force, saying it plans to buy 42 aircraft.

The cost of the first four has been budgeted in the next fiscal year, starting in April, said Noriyuki Shikata, the deputy cabinet secretary for public relations.

Lockheed gave the average price per plane as US$65 million (Dh238.6m). Final price tag, delivery times and quantities per year have yet to be finalised.

Japan wrestled for years over whether to buy the F-35, Boeing F-18 or the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of European companies.

The F-35, also called the Joint Strike Fighter, is the Pentagon's biggest weapons procurement programme, costing $238bn, and has support from allies including the UK, Australia, Canada and several European nations. It is to be used by the US air force, marines and navy.

Winning the Japan contract marks a major victory for Lockheed Martin, which is aggressively pushing the F-35 abroad.

The programme has been criticised for cost overruns and delays but the firm says several thousand could eventually be produced.