Japan to stop procurement of F-2 fighter
08 Aug 2004
Japanese Defence Agency plans to discontinue procurement of the F-2 fighter within a few years, an agency source said Saturday. The plan, which is part of the review of the Air Self-Defense Forces' fighter units, will be incorporated into the new five-year Defense Buildup Program that is to be drawn up by the end of this year.
The agency has concluded that the F-2 is the least cost-effective of all available options, making it necessary for the agency to procure an alternative aircraft.
The F-2 was jointly developed by Japan and the United States, with Tokyo originally planning to deploy 130 of the aircraft. In a rare move for Japan, procurement will now cease well short of that number.
The move comes after the Defense Agency decided to scrap its division of fighters into two categories--interceptors tasked with combating enemy aircraft, and fighter-bombers designed to attack land and sea targets. Instead, the agency plans to have future fighter aircraft assume various roles, including reconnaissance.
Under the new defense plans, to be drawn up under the new National Defense Program Outline, the agency also intends to shift from the current three-model fighter system (F-15, F-4, and F-2) to a two-model system.
As the result of study made on the basis of these plans, the agency concluded that:
- The F-2 had become too expensive after development delays caused its unit price to rise from the originally projected 8 billion yen to about 12 billion yen, or about the same as the larger, more capable F-15.
- While the F-15 is being upgraded, there is little room to upgrade the F-2 with new equipment because of its smaller size.
- The F-2 can carry only a limited number of weapons.
Based on these conclusions, the agency has decided to discontinue procurement of the F-2, but to make a rapid start on selecting an aircraft to succeed the F-4 fighter, which will reach the end of its service life in the near future, the source said.
In 1995, the Security Council of Japan decided to buy 130 F-2 fighters--a decision approved by the government.
So far, however, only 76 of the aircraft are either deployed or under construction. Next fiscal year, new contracts to purchase an additional 10 to 20 units will be made, marking the end of the procurement.
The plan to introduce the F-2 was incorporated in the Defense Buildup Program of 1985, with the aircraft intended to succeed the domestically manufactured F-1 fighter.
In selecting the model, Tokyo indicated it wanted a domestically developed aircraft, despite pressure from Washington to buy U.S.-made fighters to help cut Japan's trade surplus with the United States.
In 1987, the Tokyo [government] made a partial concession to Washington, agreeing to base the F-2 on the U.S.-made F-16 fighter.