Japan’s Future Fighter

Domestic Development with International Support

Japan’s Future Fighter
Domestic Development with International Support

After years of debate, the Japanese government will announce by the end of this year its plan to build an indigenous next generation fighter aircraft, the F-X. This project is perceived as being critical to preserve the country’s engineering and manufacturing skills base while collaborating with foreign partners.

The decision followed discussions with U.S. and British manufacturers to consider procurement based on existing fighters, codevelop a new aircraft or pursue development of an indigenous fighter with some level of foreign participation. Key issues for consideration have been sovereignty (control over design and development), terms for technology transfers, cost and work share for Japanese industry.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense has sought clarity from foreign manufacturers on their intentions and capabilities. In addition to US and UK companies, representatives of their respective government agencies have attended as observers. JMOD dialogue with U.S. industry covered a series of talks with three American manufacturers, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

These industry dialogues are focused on F-X aspirations — operational and industrial — to distill a case for a Japan-led effort based on freedom to upgrade foreign equipment and access to software for imported systems. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the likely Japanese prime contractor for a program that is expected to employ hundreds of local subcontractors.

The question is whether or not agreements can be reached that give Japan the level of control it seeks over the program while both protecting sensitive transferred technologies and providing sufficient incentive for participation by foreign companies. As was the case in 1988 when agreement on terms for development of the FSX paved way for Japan’s current F-2 fighter (derived from America’s F-16), Japan’s relationships with strategic partners will be a primary concern. Trade balances and broader U.S.-Japan alliance concerns will also influence the outcome.

This webinar will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing Japan’s future fighter – in particular whether F-X can become a prime example of how to build international government and industry partnerships without compromising national sovereignty and control.

Brought to you by BAE Systems.

September 9, 2020

Washington 08:00
London 13:00
Paris 14:00
New Delhi 17:30
Tokyo 21:00
Canberra 22:00
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