Eurofighters, F-15s and Japan

07/07/2011 – The Eurofighter has been downselected for the Indian competition and clearly the Eurofighter consortium hopes to replicate its success in Japan.  F-22 was a clear candidate for Japan, but the Administration preferred cancelling the program. The F-35 is clearly on the table as a U.S. offering, but strong U.S. DOD presence and visible public support would help the campaign.  This might well be another example of the Administration on probation [1].

Japan is reaching a crucial point with regard to their legacy aircraft.  They have shut down the flights of all of their F-15s after a recent accident.  With the F-22s being shut down because of concerns with the Oxygen system, and the Japanese F-15s not flying, there has to be some concern about fighter aircraft in the North Pacific and beyond.

According to an AP wire story out of Japan,

Japan has grounded its entire F-15 fighter fleet following the crash of one of the jets into the East China Sea… Japan’s Defense Ministry ordered the fleet to remain on the ground pending an investigation into the cause of the crash Tuesday, when an F-15 based on the island of Okinawa went down during a routine training mission….. Japan, with 202 F-15 fighters, is the biggest foreign user of the popular U.S.-designed planes but is currently looking for a newer aircraft to replace its aging fleet. Though many upgrades and changes to the planes have been made over the years, F-15 fighters have been in service since the early 1970s and are increasingly expensive to maintain….. [2]

Clearly, Eurofighter would like to be that replacement aircraft.

According to a Eurofighter press release:

Reflecting the strong commitment to deepen the strategic partnership with Japan, the Supervisory Board of Eurofighter GmbH will for the first time hold a board meeting in Tokyo. Senior executives from Eurofighter partner companies (BAE Systems, Alenia Aeronautica, and Cassidian in Spain and Germany) are visiting Japan from 5 July to 8 July to discuss the status of the Eurofighter Typhoon F-X campaign and strategic next steps, and to hold talks with Ambassadors of the four consortium member-nations – the U.K., Germany, Italy and Spain.

Eurofighter, its partner companies and the four member-nations are working to strengthen industrial and technological relations with Japan. All four partner countries are supporting and are committed to the Eurofighter F-X campaign, which is being led by the U.K. government and BAE Systems.

Commenting on the visit, Chris Boardman, Managing Director Military Air and Information at BAE Systems, said: “This meeting of the Eurofighter Supervisory Board demonstrates the enthusiasm of the consortium to work with Japan. We are ready to offer Japan’s defence industry considerable participation in the programme, which will offer significant technology transfer opportunities, including the source code, and the ability to develop and sustain key skills, capabilities and jobs within Japanese industry.”

Enzo Casolini, CEO, Eurofighter GmbH, added: “The changing security environment in East Asia presents Japan with diverse and evolving defence challenges. We are confident that the technical capabilities, cost projections and industrial offering of Eurofighter, the most advanced multi-role combat aircraft currently available, fully meet the Japanese government’s requirements.”

In addition, U.K. Ambassador to Japan, David Warren, on behalf of the Ambassadors of the consortium member-nations, commented: “As with broader economic partnerships, there is much that Europe and Japan can gain by cooperating more closely in the aerospace and defence field. We share a great deal in common, including common values, a close relationship with the United States and the need for interoperability with U.S. equipment, and similar pressures from an increasingly complex security environment. The U.K. government, and our European partners, remain fully committed to supporting the Eurofighter campaign and strengthening the defence and security relationship with Japan.” [3]

 

 

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Notes

[1] http://defense.aol.com/2011/07/06/put-the-obama-administration-on-probation-not-the-f-35b/

[2] http://asiancorrespondent.com/59381/japan-grounds-f-15-fighter-fleet-after-crash-2/

[3] Eurofighter Press Release, 7 July 2011

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

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