Japan’s first domestically assembled F-35 fighter was unveiled Monday ahead of the delivery by March of two of the aircraft to the Defense Ministry, which plans to deploy them at Misawa Air Base in northeastern Japan.
The fighter jet, unveiled at the Komakiminami factory of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd in Aichi Prefecture, features high stealth capabilities and mobility, and is expected to collaborate in surveillance activities with F-35 aircraft operated by U.S. forces.
The factory in central Japan is one of two plants for final assembly and checks of the fighters outside the United States.
The Air Self-Defense Force plans to procure a total of 42 F-35 fighters, four of which Lockheed Martin Corp has manufactured and delivered to the ministry.
For the remaining 38, local manufacturers will supply engines and some parts, and Mitsubishi Heavy will assemble and check functioning, according to the ministry.
Kenji Wakamiya, senior vice defense minister, said it is important “to acquire F-35 fighters with advanced capabilities” amid increasingly tough security conditions and it will also help to strengthen technology in the domestic defense industry.