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Japan's defense ministry to request doubled budget for F-35 fighter jet acquisition

A U.S. F-35B stealth fighter is seen in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, after takeoff from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, in this Oct. 1, 2020 file photo. (Mainichi/Norio Oyama)

TOKYO -- Japan's Ministry of Defense plans to allocate over 100 billion yen (about $905 million) in the fiscal 2022 draft budget for acquisition of about 10 additional F-35A and F-35B stealth fighter jets, a source close to the government revealed on Aug. 12.

    The amount is almost twice the 65 billion yen (about $588.25 million) for six aircraft in the fiscal 2021 budget. The FY 2022 budget will be allotted to secure the U.S. stealth fighter jets, the most advanced in the world, to accelerate preparations to guard against China's maritime maneuvers. The Defense Ministry will include the sums in its request for budget allocations, due the end of this month.

    F-35 stealth fighters are fifth-generation fighter jets that are elusive for radars. F-35A fighters can take off and land at regular runways, while F-35B fighters are capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings. The fighters' introduction is being sped up for deployment on Izumo-class helicopter destroyers, which are being converted into de-facto aircraft carriers. About 20 F-35A aircraft are stationed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's (ASDF) Misawa Base in Misawa, Aomori Prefecture.

    In its midterm defense buildup program formulated in 2018, Japan's government specified plans to acquire a total of 45 units -- 27 F-35A and 18 F-35B fighter jets -- between fiscal 2019 and 2023. According to the Ministry of Defense, expenses for purchasing 13 F-35A fighter jets and eight F-35B jets have thus far been included in budgets for the program's first three years until fiscal 2021.

    (Japanese original by Shu Hatakeyama, Political News Department)

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