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Pentagon Welcomes Japan’s F-35 Stealth Fighter Purchase

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20, 2011 – A defense spokesman today welcomed the Japanese defense minister’s announcement that his nation has selected the F-35 joint strike fighter for its air force.

Navy Capt. John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Japan’s purchase of 42 of the stealth aircraft will be “a critical component of strengthening our partnership in the alliance, and [in] working to improve security in the region.”

Japan’s decision to buy the F-35s was an extremely important one for the island nation’s security, and the joint strike fighter possesses solid capability, Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa told reporters in Tokyo.

"The security environment surrounding future fighter jets is transforming,” Ichikawa said. “The F-35 has capabilities that can firmly respond to the changes."

Speaking in Canada Nov. 18, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said the joint strike fighter is essential to meeting increasing global security challenges.

“We need to have this [aircraft],” the secretary said. “It’s true for us. It’s true for our partners -- not only Canadians, but others -- who are going to work with us and participate with us in the development of the F-35.”

Canadian Defense Minister Peter G. MacKay, who spoke alongside Panetta on Nov. 18, said that while all nations must manage budget pressures, Canada is firmly committed to the F-35.

The aircraft’s capability, he added, is “eye-watering.”

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