In a ceremony attended by more than 400 guests from both governments, militaries, and defense industries, Japanese and U.S. government officials celebrated the roll out of the first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Lightning II on Friday, marking a major milestone in Japan’s national defense.
Kenji Wakamiya, Japan’s Minister of Defense spoke at the event, saying, “With its low observability and network capability, the F-35 is the most advanced air system with cutting-edge capability as a multi-role fighter. As the security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe, because of its excellence, it is very significant for the defense of Japan to commit to acquiring the F-35 year by year. Given that the United States Government has designated Japan as a regional depot in the Asia-Pacific area, introduction of F-35A to Japan is a perfect example, enhancing the Japan-US alliance.”
Gen. Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, JASDF Chief of Air Staff, said, “The F-35A has remarkably advanced system. This highly sophisticated 5th generation fighter will bring a great development to air operations as a game changer. In integration with current JASDF assets, it surely promises to enormously contribute to not only the benefit of our national defense and but also regional stability.”
Japan’s F-35 program includes 42 F-35A jets, which will be acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program. The first four aircraft will be built built in Fort Worth, U.S., while the remaining 38 aircraft will be built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Final Assembly & Check-Out facility in Nagoya, Japan, where aircraft assembly has started.
Maintenance training for the first JASDF F-35A technicians is already underway at Eglin AFB, Florida, and the first JASDF F-35A pilots are scheduled to begin training at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November.