Japan faces a big dilemma. It’s two main adversaries in the region, Russia and China, which Japan has several territorial disputes with, have already begun developing the next generation of combat aircraft and have begun massive modernization efforts while Japan has been operating the same fleet primarily made up of 200 F-15s since the late stages of the Cold War. It’s fleet is becoming older and increasingly more expensive to maintain. Finally, after a decade of shrinking defense budgets, the JASDF is getting a big budget with money for upwards of $8 billion worth of air power. While originally eyeing the American F-22 Raptor, Japan has had to look elsewhere due to the ban on exports imposed by the US Congress, which is a shame because I think that if any US ally needs a shot at getting the F-22 it’d be Japan. They need it. Instead, Japan will choose from 3 different aircraft. They are:
The F-35 Lightning II
The F/A-18 Super Hornet
And the Eurofighter Typhoon
Not bad choices. Any one of these aircraft should fair very well against most of what the Russians, Chinese and North Koreans have to throw at them. Japan has currently set aside funding for 40 planes but that number is certainly going to rise significantly in the face of Russian and Chinese rearmament. They’re likely to choose one of the American fighters due to their military alliance with the US and they already work closely with the American military which uses the same parts and equipment so cooperation would be easier. If Japan wants to maintain stability in the region then investing in its power projection capabilities is paramount and this new fighter deal will go a long way to achieve that end.