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U.S Considering Japanese Participation In F-35 Program

Move Would Allow Japan To Acquire JSF On An Accelerated Basis

The U.S. government may allow Japan to assist in the development of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, even though there is no assurance that the Japanese government will procure the advanced aircraft. Their continued participation means that Japan would at least be eligible to buy the aircraft as it's primary fighter.

Countries that assist in the development of the F-35 are supposed to receive preferential treatment in acquiring the aircraft, which is expected to become operational in 2010. According to the international news service AFP, Japan's Kyodo News quotes sources in both governments that say talks between the U.S. and Japan about the plane are continuing.

Tokyo would be limited to developing components for the fighter that would be used exclusively by its Air Force, as Japanese law prohibits the export of defense technology.

The Japanese government had previously hoped to acquire the F-22 Raptor as its primary fighter, but Congress has blocked the sale of that aircraft to foreign governments, and recently voted to halt production of the airplane.

Australia and Britain are currently the United States' principal partners in the development of the F-35, though other countries are participating as well. Countries that assist in the program move to the head of the line for procurement when the aircraft becomes operational.

FMI: www.dod.mil

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