TOKYO (AP) - Japan's government has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter to bolster its ageing air force and is likely to announce the multibillion-dollar deal by the end of the week, news reports said on Tuesday.
The announcement is expected after a committee meeting on Friday, according to Kyodo News agency and the Yomiuri newspaper. A spokesman for Lockheed Martin said it had not been informed of any decision and, pending the formal announcement, officials refused to comment on which plane was favoured.
'We would like to announce our decision as soon as possible,' Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa said in response to the reports. He said the government is in the 'final stages' of reaching a conclusion.
Japan is expected to buy 40 to 50 jets for as much as US$8 billion (S$10.5 billion), though the value of the deal depends on what package Japan chooses. The Yomiuri report said Japan will budget for the first four aircraft in 2012, with deliveries starting in 2016