Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Japan picks a flying question mark

Japan has selected the F-35 to replace their F-4 Phantoms.

Fortunately for them it is an FMS deal with offsets and work-share and not the smoke and mirrors for the unlucky stiffs that are Joint Strike Fighter Partner nations.

The package includes a final assembly and checkout (FACO) facility in Japan as well as work there to build components – potentially including the wings or center fuselage – and subcomponents. Specific details on the value of this FACO facility were not disclosed.

Production "capacity" will be available because JSF Partner Nations have not put in orders of any significant number.

Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and IHT Corp will help with final assembly of the F-35 along with other components.

Lockheed officials declined to identify a potential contract value, but some analysts estimate it to be worth $8 billion. The contract for the first four jets, likely to be used for training, is expected in Japan’s fiscal 2012, beginning in April.

I guess Japan didn't learn much from the F-2.

There is a lot of work to do to fix up significant problems with the F-35. It will be interesting to see how Japan deals with all of this.

And, it is unlikely the F-35 will be useful against emerging threats in the Pacific Rim over its alleged lifetime.

Maybe Japan can bring some credibility back into the F-35 program.

Others have tried, without success.


Anonymous said...

One interesting question becomes:

Will Japan be 'exporting' follow-on F-35s it has final-assembled and built components for in the future?

Perhaps Australia, Canada and Norway could pull out from the Partnership and go for a competitive FMS deal? If 42 jets are estimated to be worth approx $8bn in work, that would put it in-line with Israel's proposed sale as well... one can do the math to form a starting point for other Foreign negotiations.

Canuck Fighter said...

Maybe the F-35 "J" will be better. The Japanese have a way of making things work through better engineering practices.
Either way, it's clear why Japan went forward with the F-35 deal. It jobs..plain and simple.
As to whether the plane will meet expectations. Time will tell and it looks like it will be a while to iron out all the problems.
The F-35 probably has a place at some point in anyone's air fleet. The deficient thinking however is that it will be the end all be all.
There's no aircraft that has ever been or will ever be it all.
Imagine if the Navy took that approach and tried to build a single ship that was a carrier, missile cruiser, frigate and submarine. Well...I think we all know thw answer to that one.

Baduin said...

Japan is building up its aircraft industry, and Mitsubishi Heavy is the designated leader. They already build more of the Boeing 787 than Americans do.

They do not care whether F-35 will be militarily useful or not. They are not going to use them in anger, anyway (in case of a general USA-China war the performance of Japanese jets would be of little importance, anyway). They want technology, know-how, production experience etc.

A failing program is even better from their point of view - they have better negotiating position.

Japanese are notoriously bad at original creation, and notoriously good at incremental improvement and production. When they do have the technology, they will be able to do many interesting things with it.

Anonymous said...

I guess noone can say a thing about F-35 is replacing F-4. Maybe that's the whole truth about F-35.

40 planes for japan at about$100m each. Is this cheaper than the Canadian one?

I'll wait for what Japan will choose to replace its F-2 and F-15J

nico said...

The good news for LM is that with Japan buying into JSF program, it is almost a foregone conclusion that SKorea will also buy F35s. In this case, maybe a few F35Bs would make sense and would definitively help the program, maybe even more than Japan buying a few -A.

Wonder after all this would US sell some to Taiwan? Sure would piss off China but after Australia, Singapore,Japan and SK all buying F35s, would it really matter if Taiwan bought some?

These are buys that could start adding up and give LM a chance to maybe hit its production targets.