Pentagon Welcomes Japan’s F‑35 Stealth Fighter Purchase

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2011 — A defense spokesman today wel­comed the Japan­ese defense minister’s announce­ment that his nation has select­ed the F‑35 joint strike fight­er for its air force.

Navy Capt. John Kir­by, a Pen­ta­gon spokesman, told reporters Japan’s pur­chase of 42 of the stealth air­craft will be “a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of strength­en­ing our part­ner­ship in the alliance, and [in] work­ing to improve secu­ri­ty in the region.”

Japan’s deci­sion to buy the F‑35s was an extreme­ly impor­tant one for the island nation’s secu­ri­ty, and the joint strike fight­er pos­sess­es sol­id capa­bil­i­ty, Defense Min­is­ter Yasuo Ichikawa told reporters in Tokyo.

“The secu­ri­ty envi­ron­ment sur­round­ing future fight­er jets is trans­form­ing,” Ichikawa said. “The F‑35 has capa­bil­i­ties that can firm­ly respond to the changes.”

Speak­ing in Cana­da Nov. 18, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta said the joint strike fight­er is essen­tial to meet­ing increas­ing glob­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges.

“We need to have this [air­craft],” the sec­re­tary said. “It’s true for us. It’s true for our part­ners — not only Cana­di­ans, but oth­ers — who are going to work with us and par­tic­i­pate with us in the devel­op­ment of the F‑35.”

Cana­di­an Defense Min­is­ter Peter G. MacK­ay, who spoke along­side Panet­ta on Nov. 18, said that while all nations must man­age bud­get pres­sures, Cana­da is firm­ly com­mit­ted to the F‑35.

The aircraft’s capa­bil­i­ty, he added, is “eye-water­ing.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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