Senior Japanese and U.S. government officials joined Lockheed Martin to celebrate the roll out of the first Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A Lightning II, marking a major milestone in Japan’s enhanced national defense and strengthening the future of the U.S-Japan security alliance.
The ceremony was attended by more than 400 guests from both governments, military and defense industries. Among the more distinguished guests attending were: Dr. Hideaki Watanabe, commissioner of Japan’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, commander of U.S. Pacific Air Forces, and Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO.
Kenji Wakamiya, Japan’s State Minister of Defense spoke at the event:
“The F-35A is expected to fulfill an important central role in Japan’s air defense system. Given that the United States Government has designated Japan as a regional depot in the Asia-Pacific area, introduction of F-35A to Japan is a perfect example, enhancing the Japan-US alliance.”
Japan’s F-35 program includes 42 F-35A Conventional Take Off and Landing aircraft, acquired through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales program. The first four aircraft are built in Fort Worth and the remaining 38 aircraft will be built at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Final Assembly & Check-Out facility in Nagoya, Japan, where aircraft assembly is underway. Maintenance training for the first JASDF F-35A technicians is underway at Eglin AFB, Florida, and the first JASDF F-35A pilots are scheduled to begin training at Luke AFB, Arizona, in November.