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Tokyo May Cancel Order for U.S. Combat Jets if Price Rises

RIA Novosti

15:57 29/02/2012 TOKYO, February 29 (RIA Novosti) - Japan may cancel its order to buy 42 U.S.-made F-35 Lightning II stealth combat aircraft if prices grow or delivery is delayed, the Kyodo News Agency said on Wednesday.

“If the U.S. side makes an unrealistic proposal, we will cancel the purchase or consider [buying] other types of aircraft,” the agency quoted Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka as saying.

Two weeks ago, Japan’s Defense Ministry informed the Pentagon about the possibility of cancelling the order over fears that it might not meet the cost. The price of the aircraft for the U.S. forces has already turned out to be higher than expected due to delays in the aircraft’s design and development process.

The F-35 is currently still being tested, but low-rate initial production is already underway, with full-rate production due to begin around 2016, according to Aviation Week magazine. The United States alone wants to buy almost 2,500 F-35s.

Japan opted to buy the F-35 after considering its combat-proven rivals: Boeing's FA-18E/F Super Hornet and the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Japan plans to acquire a total of 42 jets and pay 9.9 billion yen ($123 million) for each of the first four aircraft to be delivered by March 2016.

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