Japan Wants To Upgrade To The F-35 Partner Country

Recently, Japan officially submitted a request to the United States to join the F-35 fighter program, but the US Pentagon poured a cold water.

According to the "Defense News" website reported on July 29, Japan recently officially expressed its interest in joining the F-35 fighter program as a partner country, but the Pentagon rejected the request.

According to the report, Japan's request to join the F-35 project “formal partner country” has brought political difficulties to the Pentagon. The US is worried that this will cause tension between the global production bases of the F-35 fighters and require deeper requirements for other client countries. Participate in the F-35 project to open the door.

On June 18, the Secretary of the Japanese Defense Defense Planning Agency, Suzuki Duke, sent a letter to the US Department of Defense Purchasing Director Alan Rhodes, formally informing the United States how Japan can change from a client country of the F-35 fighter to full participation. Partner of the F-35 project. Suzuki said in the letter: "I believe that (Japan) is a "partner country" for the F-35 project. I hope to understand, first of all, do you think that Japan may become a "partner of the F-35 project"? ". At the same time, I hope that you will provide the Ministry of Defense of Japan with detailed information on the obligations and rights that can be enjoyed as a "partner country", as well as information on cost sharing, project approval channels and approval time."

The letter concludes: "We hope to fully review the rights and obligations of becoming a "partner country" based on the relevant rights and terms provided by you, so as to make a final decision on whether to initiate the process of joining the partnership."

US Deputy Defense Secretary Rohde, who is in charge of Pentagon weapons procurement, said he plans to meet with Japanese officials this week and will show his face to Japan, but Tokyo should be disappointed with the answer. Although Rhodes' office will be responsible for conveying the final message to Japan, the F-35 fighter program office told Defense News that they have decided that only the first batch of F-35 project investors can enjoy the status of “partner country”. .

F-35 project office spokesperson Brady Ziff said: "The F-35 partner application ended on July 15, 2002." It is reported that there are currently 9 "partner countries" of F-35 fighters. They are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and the United States.

The current F-35 fighter program is divided into two levels. The first level is the “partner country” that originally joined the project. At that time, nine other “partner countries” other than the United States provided $4.375 billion in funding. The development of this fighter aircraft, the production base of F-35 fighter aircraft parts will also be built in these countries, becoming a part of the F-35 fighter global industrial chain; the second level is the "user" of the F-35 fighter, mainly later Countries that purchase F-35 fighters cannot directly participate in the development decisions of F-35 fighters, and have fewer rights in industrial cooperation, such as Japan, South Korea, and Israel.

On May 27, US President Trump publicly stated during his visit to Japan that Japan plans to purchase 105 US-made F-35 stealth fighters. The F-35 fighter is the next-generation main fighter that the Defense Ministry has positioned as the "air defense key". The Defense Plan Outline and the Medium-Term Defence Plan, which were adopted by the Japanese cabinet meeting in December last year, have just decided to purchase a large number of F-35A and derivative models F-35B.

Japan also decided to transform the "Izumo" class helicopter carrier into a true aircraft carrier, and the F-35B carrier-based fighter will be equipped in the future. Although among the three F-35 brothers, the F-35B is a low overall performance, its maximum takeoff weight, combat radius, and maneuverability are worse than those of the carrier and air force, but in the face of four without invisibility. On behalf of the machine, the F-35B still has a very big advantage. More importantly, the F-35B can use its own invisible advantages to launch "sneak attacks" on other land targets and large-scale targets at sea, which will make the Maritime Self-Defense Force more offensive. This means that the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and the Maritime Self-Defense Force will use the F-35 fighter as the main fighter in the future. In order to fully exploit the performance of this fighter and further master the technology of the fifth-generation fighter, Japan has requested to join the F-35 fighter program. It is also expected to become a "partner country". In fact, the United States and Japan have already been quite in-depth in the cooperation of the F-35 fighter. The US allows Japan to assemble the F-35 fighter aircraft in China, so that Japan can master some of the key technologies of this type of fighter. This is the other F-35 "users". No treatment.

And now that Turkey is buying a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system and the United States is "noisy", the United States is threatening to kick Turkey out of the F-35 fighter program, which seems to have caused a "vacancy" in the partner countries of the F-35 project. "Japan's proposal to join the F-35 project at this time is also very subtle." However, the US's concern is that if Japan is approved as a partner, it will lead to other follow-up purchases of F-35 countries, which may lead to unnecessary confusion.

In addition, on April 9 this year, when Japan first established the first actual F-35 fighter unit, it suffered a serious crash. An F-35A of the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces’ Sanze Base (Mizawa City, Aomori Prefecture) crashed into the Pacific Ocean during training. After the incident, the United States searched for many ships and fighters for more than a month. The body was found, only a small amount of debris and damaged flight recording devices were found, and no critical flight records were obtained. The majority of the fuselage and pilots who were considered "all confidential" were still missing. This is also the world's first crash of the F-35A fighter. The Japanese media said that this will definitely affect Japan's plan to purchase a large number of F-35 models.