|A F-15 fighter takes off in Okinawa. (File photo)|
According to a report of Singapore's "Lianhe Zaobao" on June 30, Japan's defense ministry is about to promote a fighter procurement bidding project as early as mid-July. The transaction could be worth up to 40 billion dollars.
Japan is seeking to strengthen its air defense forces, in response to the increasingly tense relationship over maritime dispute with China.
According to the report, this project will be the biggest one amongst Japanese fighter jet contracts in recent years. Japan plans to purchase about 100 fighters.
The Japan Ministry of Defense spokesman said that the Japanese authorities will contact domestic and foreign defense contractors as soon as possible after the bidding deadline this July.
According to informed sources, the U.S. Boeing and Lockheed Martin companies have been invited to participate in this project titled the "F3 fighter plan"; Japan’s main contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will also participate in the bidding.
Informed sources also said that Japan may make a final decision in the summer of 2018, the first deployment of these aircraft will begin in late 2020.
According to the report, "F3 fighter program" could be worth up to 40 billion dollars, which is expected to attract global defense contractors to bid.
However, analysts said, given the close relationship between Washington and Tokyo, Japan would prefer to achieve closer cooperation with the U.S. military, so the chance of non- U.S contractors winning the bid is quite slim.