The first F-35A stealth fighter jet for the Air Self-Defense Force is set to be deployed to the Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture on Friday, Defense Ministry officials said Monday.
The ASDF will procure a total of 42 F-35A aircraft, its next-generation mainstay fighter. It plans to form the first F-35A squadron by deploying nine more aircraft to the northeastern base by the end of March next year.
The F-35, which has advanced stealth capabilities, was developed in an international project led by the United States and Britain.
The fighter to be deployed to the Misawa base soon was assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. group’s plant in Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture, and so will be 37 others. The remaining four aircraft will come from the United States.
The ministry plans to mount Norwegian-made long-range cruise missiles on the F-35As, with the aim of using them for remote island defense and attacking enemy forces on the ground.
Critics point out that the 500-km-range missiles will give Japan the ability to attack enemy bases, questioning the consistency of their deployment with the war-renouncing Constitution, which is interpreted as allowing the country to possess only defensive capabilities.