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Aerospace & Defense

Japan invites foreign expertise for homegrown stealth fighter

Tokyo seeks development know-how from experienced US and UK contractors

Japan's Defense Ministry seeks to tap the expertise of contractors with experience in developing stealth fighters like the F-35B shown here.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan has begun recruiting foreign companies willing to provide know-how for developing the country's next-generation fighter jet, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The application period runs through the end of August, with American and British companies expected to participate. The ministry will choose partners in early September and begin cooperation that month in information gathering.

Though Japan plans to lead the project, fighter jet development is a complex process requiring expertise in a variety of areas, such as simulating control systems and airframe designs as well as testing stealth capabilities. The ministry seeks to draw on the experience of foreign contractors involved in past projects for more efficient development.

The ministry said it primarily wants information that will help with controlling costs, managing schedules and ensuring the jets can be upgraded freely in the future.

"We'll consider how best to handle international cooperation [on development] based on the information we receive," Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters.

Japan aims to deploy the new planes around 2035 to replace the aging F-2. The ministry seeks a domestic company to oversee the project, with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries considered the leading candidate.

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