Japan picks F35 as new fighter jet

Japan picks F35 as new fighter jet

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Japan picks F35 as new fighter jet

The Japanese government has selected the Lockheed Martin stealth fighter to bolster its aging air force and is likely to announce the multibillion-dollar deal this week. AP photo

Japan yesterday chose the U.S.-built F-35 stealth jet for its next-generation mainstay fighter, as North Korea provided a timely reminder of the region’s potential for instability.

In a deal estimated to be worth more than $4 billion, Japan plumped for the trouble-plagued jet to replace its ageing fleet of F-4 fighters.

“The government shall acquire 42 units of the F-35A after fiscal year 2012 in order to replenish and to modernise the current fleet of fighters held by the Air Self-Defense Force,” the cabinet said in a statement.

Lockheed Martin’s F-35 beat off competition from two other jets - the Boeing-made F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The formal decision came the day after news of the death of Kim Jong-Il sent jitters through the region amid fears a power transition could destabilize North Korea’s regime.

Tokyo was originally expected to announce its pick last week.

In another development, Tokyo said it will bolster its currency market intervention war chest by 30 trillion yen ($385 billion), the second-biggest increase on record, as it moves to tame the soaring yen.
“We are preparing ourselves so that we can take resolute decisions at any moment in any situation,” Finance Minister Jun Azumi told a press conference.

The plan would raise the accumulated total amount the government is allowed to borrow from the market to finance intervention to 195 trillion yen.

The move follows aggressive interventions in the currency market in recent months to counter the yen’s rapid rise.

Tokyo spent a monthly record of 9.092 trillion yen between Oct. 28 and Nov. 28 in an effort to weaken the yen to relieve pressure on exporters.