$23 billion F-35 sale to Japan called ‘major contribution’ to deterring China

by WorldTribune Staff, July 24, 2020

Japan has purchased 105 F-35A and F-35B strike fighters from the United States in one of the largest foreign military sales ever.

U.S., Japanese, and Lockheed Martin officials at Misawa Air Base welcome the first operational F-35A Lightning II to JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing, Feb. 24, 2018. / U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton

The deal for the Lockheed Martin-produced jets is worth $23.11 billion.

The F-35A variant takes off from a normal runway while the F-35B is a jump jet capable of vertical takeoff and landing on both land and on ships.

Related: Japan’s submarines could buttress deterrence as U.S. replaces aging fleet, July 21, 2020

Rick Fisher, a China affairs analyst and Geostrategy-Direct.com contributing editor, said the F-35 sale to Japan “rates as a major contribution to deterring Chinese aggression.”

“Washington should revive the idea of selling a small number of F-35B fighters to Taiwan to leverage the advantage of Japanese and U.S. F-35s,” said Fisher. “For Taiwan, the F-35 can make a major contribution as a far more survivable airborne radar, electronic intelligence node and datalink-communications node to supplant what China attacks.”

The new stealth jets “are expected to greatly enhance Japan’s aerial strike capabilities and send a strategic message to China,” Bill Gertz noted in reporting on the sale for The Washington Times on July 22.

Beijing has raised tensions with Tokyo by claiming sovereignty over Japan’s Senkaku Islands, a group of small uninhabited islands near Okinawa that are believed to have large nearby energy reserves.

The State Department said in a statement that for over 60 years the U.S.-Japanese alliance has been the cornerstone of peace, stability and freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The U.S. commitment to Japan’s defense under the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty of 1960 is unwavering,” said the statement, noting that there are still some 55,000 U.S. troops in Japan.

Japan also is home to the forward-deployed aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Ronald Reagan, which is equipped with carrier-capable F-35s.

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