Lockheed Martin said it will offer final assembly of the F-35 fighter to Japanese firms in bid for a defence contract from Tokyo.
The U.S. aerospace and defence contractor, seeking to bolster its chances of winning a bid to supply warplanes worth as much as $8 billion to Japan, said it will also offer manufacture of major components, maintenance work and engine assembly of the F-35 to Japanese firms.
The F-35 “has taken our industry and partners to a new level,” John Balderston, the campaign director for Lockheed’s bid, told reporters at a Tokyo hotel where the company was displaying a mockup of the plane, Reuters reports.
“It will put Japanese aerospace into the lead,” Balderston said, referring to what Lockheed says is its more advanced technology than rivals.
Lockheed’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is competing for an order to replace ageing F-4 Phantom fighters in Japan against Boeing’s F/A 18 Super Hornet and the Typhoon, made by a consortium of European firms including EADS , Britain’s BAE Systems and Italy’s Finmeccanica .
Japan rarely buys European equipment, preferring to arm its military with U.S. or Japan designed weapons, and the 40-plane order is expected to go to either Lockheed or Boeing.