Hinomaru Lightning on the Horizon

Japan’s defense ministry has announced that it will consider procurement of the F-35 strike fighter as part of its Fiscal 2012 budget request. The F-35 would provide the Japan Air Self Defense Force with a fifth-generation fighter in lieu of the F-22, which US officials have said is not available for export. The Kyodo News reports (via Japan Today) that Japan seeks to acquire 40 aircraft, likely selecting the F-35 over the F/A-18 Super Hornet, F-15FX, and Eurofighter Typhoon. Although Japan decided against additional procurement of the indigenously developed Mitsubishi F-2 (based on the F-16) as a stopgap to F-35 delays, the defense ministry has not ruled out upgrading JASDF’s current fleet of F-15Js in the interim, according to the report.