TOKYO (TR) – The Japanese Defense Ministry officially chose Lockheed Martin’s Lightning II F-35 stealth fighter over competitors to become its next generation fighter jet, Agence France-Press said.
The still unproven and trouble-plagued jet beat out the Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing’s F/A18 Super Hornet in a $4.7 billion deal, AFP reported. The F-35, which has suffered a series of technical setbacks and delays, is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history, AFP said.
“The government shall acquire 42 units of the F-35A after fiscal 2012 in order to replenish and to modernize the current fleet of fighters held by the Air Self-Defense Force,” the Japanese government said in a statement, according to AFP.
Japan’s Self-Defense Force originally planned to replace its aging fleet of F-4s with the Lockheed Martin fifth generation F-22 Raptor stealth fighter as it tries to keep up with China’s growing military capabilities. U.S. law prohibited that sale, AFP said.