Japan to promote fighter jet procurement bidding project

Beijing: Japan's defence ministry proposes to promote a fighter jet procurement bidding project as early as mid-July, an official report said. According to a report of Singapore's "Lianhe Zaobao" on Thursday, the transaction could be worth up to $40 billion. Japan is seeking to strengthen its air defence 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 fighter jets. Tokyo's Ministry of Defence spokesman said that the Japanese authorities will contact domestic and foreign defence contractors as soon as possible after the bidding deadline this July. According to informed sources, the US 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 programme" could be worth up to $40 billion, which is expected to attract global defence contractors to bid. However, analysts said, given the close relationship between Washington and Tokyo, Japan would prefer to achieve closer cooperation with the US military, so the chance of non-US contractors winning the bid is quite slim.