Image Attribute: The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force maintainers pose for a photo Nov. 28 during the arrival of the first Japanese F-35A at Luke Air Force Base Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.) / Source: U.S. Department of Defense
On November 28, 2016, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has officially received its first Lockheed Martin F-35A, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the fighter, marking the first delivery of a Joint Strike Fighter acquired through the foreign military sale (FMS) route.
The aircraft was officially rolled out in September 23, 2016 at a Lockheed Martin production facility in Fort Worth, Texas and later it was welcomed by a joint delegation from the 944 FW, 56th Fighter Wing, Lockheed Martin, and JASDF staff at Luke AFB in Arizona.
“Today is a great day for the US Air Force Reserve Command, Luke AFB, the 944th Fighter Wing, and the Japanese Air Self-Defence Forces,” Col Kurt J Gallegos, 944th Fighter Wing commander, says. “We have a great team of airmen who have worked hard to set up an outstanding training program and are ready to train our FMS counterparts.
In coming years, U.S. Air Force's 944th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB will be training FMS pilots from Japan, Israel and South Korea along with partner nations including Australia, Italy, Norway, Turkey, Netherlands, Denmark, and Canada.
“The jet arrival marks the beginning of a new and exciting mission at Luke AFB to train our allies to fly the F-35A,” explained Lt. Col. Joe Bemis, 944 OG Det. 2 executive officer and resource advisor. “We have been preparing for this program for years. We have remodeled buildings, built a huge team of professional pilots, maintainers, and administration staff, and created specialized syllabus. We are hopeful that this mission will strengthen relationships between the US and nations that participate in the training.”
The total cost of the deal including end-to-end procurement including maintenance, and repairs is estimated at JPY1.6 trillion (USD14 billion), but this figure may rise further.
The first four of a total 42 F-35s destined for Japan are being assembled in Fort Worth, Texas, while the remaining 38 units will be built at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ facility in Nagoya, Japan.
In addition to the Foreign Military Sales mission led by the 944 OG/Det 2 Ninjas, Luke is scheduled to have six fighter squadrons and 144 F-35s, the USAF 944th Fighter Wing's press release says.
Image Attribute: Lockheed Martin and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force personnel work together to taxi in the arrival of the first Foreign Military Sales F-35A onto the 944th Fighter Wing ramp Nov. 28 at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The arrival marked the next step for the international F-35 training program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.) / Source: U.S. Department of Defense
With reporting by USAF Press Release and IHS Jane's 360