Posted April. 27, 2007 07:30,
A White House official said the U.S. government is positively considering Japans offer to purchase F-22 fighters. The F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft.
Dennis Wilder, Director for East Asia at the National Security Council, held a press conference on April 25, a day before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abes visit to America. He was asked to confirm recent Japanese media reports that Japan wants to purchase F-22 fighters. He said, The U.S. is very positively disposed to talk with Japan about the future-generation fighter aircraft.
The U.S.-Japan Defense Alliance is changing and Japan helped the U.S. shift its naval troops from Okinawa to Guam. The People`s Liberation Army Air Force of China is spurring modernization. North Koreas missile and nuclear capabilities come as a threat to Japan. All of these explain why Japans Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) requested the future-generation fighters, he said.
"It`s something for the experts to look at, to figure out which of the many superb aircraft we have suits Japan`s needs the most, he added.
The Raptor is a likely candidate for the JASDFs Replacement-Fighter program (for buying future generation fighter aircraft) in summer 2008.
But the export of the F-22A is banned under federal law and needs approval from the U.S. Congress. Its high cost (200-300 million dollars per Raptor) also may be an issue. Japan was also considering buying F-15FXs first and F-22s later. The F-15FX is the advanced version of F-15J and F-15DJ, the mainstay of the JSADF, and its price is less than the half of a Raptor.
The Japanese government has allocated 1 trillion yen for its Replacement-Fighter Program.
Neighboring Northeast Asian nations are sensitive to Japans possible purchase of F-22 fighters. When the Washington Times reported, Japan wants to buy as many as 100 F-22 fighters on April 20, the China News, a semi-official news agency, expressed concern, saying, That will upset the military balance around the Taiwan Straits of the last 20 years.
Some dispute the report, however, as buying 100 Raptors requires two or three times more money than Japans total budget for the replacement program.
The United States Air Force deployed 12 F-22 fighters at Kadena Air Base in southern Japan`s Okinawa prefecture in late February. The deployment expires in May. Japans Ministry of Defense proposed a joint drill between United States Air Force pilots and JSADF pilots, and the joint military training is to be held around Okinawa on April 27. The JSADF has about 200 F-15J and F-15DJ models, with are said to deliver lesser performance compared to the F-15Ks of the ROK Air Force.