US defense contractor Lockheed Martin is drawing up a proposal to offer Japan a stealth fighter that combines the designs of the F-35 Lighting II and the export-banned F-22 Raptor, it was reported Friday.
According to Reuters, Japan is hoping to introduce “a separate air superiority fighter” sometime after 2030, to aid in deterring intrusion into its airspace by Chinese and Russian jets.
Sources told the news agency that Lockheed has discussed the prospect with the Japanese defense ministry and is preparing to submit a formal proposal in response to a Japanese request. The move would require permission from the US government to offer the sensitive military technology.
Japan’s goal to develop its own stealth fighter was motivated in part by Washington’s previous refusal to sell the F-22. The new development would be a major shift, as the F-22 is still said to be considered the world’s best air superiority fighter.
“We are considering domestic development, joint development and the possibility of improving existing aircraft performance, but we have not yet come to any decision,” a Ministry of Defense spokesman was quoted as saying on Friday.
“We look forward to exploring options for Japan’s F-2 replacement fighter in cooperation with both the Japanese and US governments. Our leadership and experience in 5th generation aircraft can be leveraged to cost-effectively provide capabilities to meet Japan’s future security needs,” a Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said.