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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 March 15 - 21  > Abe plans to purchase costly, defective F-35 fighter jets from US
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2017 March 15 - 21 [POLITICS]

Abe plans to purchase costly, defective F-35 fighter jets from US

March 19, 2017
While the Abe government is going ahead with buying U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jets for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, the Pentagon released a report indicating that the aircraft has 276 critical deficiencies, Akahata reported on March 19.

The report was compiled by the U.S. Defense Department’s Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) office in regard to the latest generation of the F-35 and was submitted to Congress in January.

The report points out that the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the aircraft’s full combat capability will start in late 2018 or early 2019 at the earliest, but anticipates that the IOT&E will actually begin in 2020. It also states that based on the current evaluation, the aircraft will be unable to be used in combat situations.

The report noted that the F-35 development team was under pressure to rush to have IOT&E by August 2017 as part of necessary steps toward its full deployment and that the 276 flaws remain.

As examples of the defects, the report cites that the connection between vertical tail and the airframe is wearing out much faster than expected and that the horizontal tails continue to suffer from heat damage. Furthermore, referring to fire accidents which F-35s experienced in September and October in 2016, the report states that the cause of the accidents has yet to be determined.

In the report, the Pentagon’s office said that due to the necessity of receiving frequent maintenance services, F-35s’ readiness rate is lower than 80% of that of other U.S. fighters. As of October 2016, the average rate of readiness for all types of the F-35 stood at 52%.

The Abe government already purchased four previous-generation stealth fighter jets and plans to buy 38 of the latest versions. In the 2017 budget, the government will pay 14.7 billion yen per aircraft. However, the development of the fifth-generation fighter fell behind schedule which led to soaring costs. The Abe government should cancel its plan to purchase the defective F-35.

Past related articles
> JCP Hatayama: US defense industry will benefit from Abe-Trump ties [February 21, 2017]
> Gov’t initial budget draft epitomizes its hardline policy of arms expansion: JCP Koike [December 23, 2016]
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