Skip to comments.Japan's military chief says F-35 is "best fighter"
Posted on 03/28/2013 9:57:51 PM PDT by sukhoi-30mki
Japan's military chief says F-35 is "best fighter"
(Reuters) - Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighters are the best choice for Japan's future operational needs, the nation's highest-ranking uniformed officer said on Wednesday, in a vote of confidence for the state-of-the-art U.S. warplane.
His comments follow reports that some nations that have placed orders for the F-35s may reconsider their plans.
Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces' Joint Staff, also said advancement of North Korea's arms technology in a series of nuclear and missile tests posed a serious threat to Japan, but its missile defense system should provide the country with sufficient protection.
"When I was the head of the air force, I spearheaded the decision (to procure F-35s). Or, rather, we drew up a plan, which was then approved by defense minister," said Iwasaki, a veteran fighter pilot who used to fly F-15s, Japan's current mainstay combat aeroplane.
"There were various candidates. But I still believe the F-35 is the best fighter, when we think about Japan's future national security," he said in an interview with Reuters.
Dutch orders for F-35 warplanes are likely to be cut back, sources close to the discussions told Reuters last week, citing cost overruns and delays in the program, uncertainty over the Netherlands' defense strategy and budget cuts across Europe.
U.S. officials fear cuts in orders by the Dutch or other buyers could trigger a "death spiral" in the Pentagon's biggest arms program by driving up the price of remaining orders, leading to more cancellations.
Japan, one of the closest U.S. allies in Asia, has remained steadfast in its plans to buy 42 F-35s, with the first four planes scheduled for delivery by March 2017.
Iwasaki described North Korea's nucle
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Shigeru Iwasaki, Japan's Self Defense Forces' chief of Joint Staff, poses with a model of F-15 fighter aircraft before an interview with Reuters at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo March 27, 2013.
Someone got to him.