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What does F-35A fighter jets' delivery to Japan mean?

( Source: China Military  )         2017-January-12 19:04

BEIJING, Jan. 12 (ChinaMil) -- The U.S. Air Force delivered the first F-35A Lightning II fighter jet to the Japan Air Self-defense Forces (JASDF) at the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, America, on November 29, 2016, indicating that Japan began to make preparation for using fifth-generation stealth fighter jet.

Japan decided to buy 42 F-35A fighter jets from the US at the end of 2011 and they signed the contract on the first batch of four F-35A fighter jets in May of 2012, which were to be produced by Lockheed Martin, an American global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company.

Japan was also authorized to produce the rest 38 F-35A fighter jets, which would be assembled by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' plant in Japan's Aichi Prefecture.

Foreign media reported that Japan will release another purchase contract for up to 100 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets in the summer of 2018, which will probably include F-35B and amount to more than $40 billion in total.

Japan's purchase and commissioning of F-35 fighter jets will impose substantial impacts on the security situation in East Asia and calls for close attention.

Deepen Japan-US military alliance

To assist in America's "Asia-Pacific rebalancing" strategy, Japan has been consolidating its military alliance with the US in recent years, and purchasing and commissioning the F-35A fighter jets is an important step toward deepening the alliance and pushing their military integration.

As an advanced fighter jet especially created for the whole-spectrum and joint combat in the 21st century, F-35 excels in cross-border and cross-region joint combat capability. It will not only improve Japan's air strike capability, but also reshuffle Japan's air combat system and aviation industry.

Australia received the first F-35 fighter jet in 2014, the Republic of Korea (ROK) decided to buy 40 F-35A fighter jets and Singapore showed purchase intention too.

As the US military began to deploy F-35B fighter jets at the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan's Yamaguchiken, an "arc of stealth combat capability" with F-35 fighter jets in the center is taking shape.

Accelerate Japan's strategic military transformation

Japan is elevating its military from "basic defense" to "joint and mobile defense", from "homeland defense" to "dynamic deterrence", and is moving the strategic focus from the north to the southwest.

Therefore, when Japan purchased resources, it made a point of improving the JSDF's (Japan's Self Defense Forces) capability of maneuverability, joint application, anti-submarine and off-island operations, reinforcing the vigilance and monitoring system, and bettering the air defense and anti-missile system.

F-35 is a vital piece of equipment that can support Japan's strategic transformation and an advanced fighter that can guard the southern and northern end of Japanese islands, thus intensifying the contention with China over the East China Sea.

Enhance Japan's capability of fighter R&D

Japan has been eager to develop the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet independently for a long time partly because it wanted to shake off America's control and partly because of its realistic demand for military expansion. But due to technological limitations, Japan's R&D on ATD-X fighter has failed several times.

By purchasing F-35A fighter jets, Japan and the US reached a package deal, under which the US will produce the first four fighters in the US while Japan will be authorized to produce the rest 38 fighters and receive multiple core technology transfers including airborne radar.

This will help Japan accumulate experience and technology within a short term for producing stealth fighters and make technological breakthroughs in such aspects as stealth performance, airborne radar and vector engine of high thrust-weight ratio, laying the foundation for independently developing the ATD-X. Japan-made stealth fighters may appear in the sky of East Asia in the future.

Start "cloud confrontation" in air combat

The most important feature of F-35 fighter is information integration. Based on "multi-function advanced data link", it can connect with other aircraft and automatically share state perception data and command UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicle) within a certain scope to carry out missions.

It is the central device of "combat cloud". With F-35, Japan is able to realize air combat coordination across border, across region, between manned and unmanned systems and between F-35 and F22, both being the fifth-generation fighters.

Air combat in the Northeast Asia will usher in the era of "cloud confrontation" characterized by wide distribution, dynamic combination and independent coordination.



Editor :  Huang Panyue