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US approves sale of 105 F-35 stealth fighters to Japan

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The United States announced on Thursday that it has approved the sale of 105 F-35 stealth aircraft to Japan for an estimated US$23.11 billion.

[WASHINGTON] The United States announced on Thursday that it has approved the sale of 105 F-35 stealth aircraft to Japan for an estimated US$23.11 billion.

Japan had asked to buy 63 F-35A, the traditional version of the electronics-laden fighter aircraft, and 42 F-35B, the short-takeoff and vertical-landing version for aircraft carriers, the State Department said in a statement.

Washington gave its green light to the transaction, which will improve "the security of a major ally" in the Asia-Pacific region, the statement noted.

"It is vital to US national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defence capability," the State Department added.

Japan's 2020/2021 defense budget is a record US$50.3 billion, aimed at funding purchases of fighter jets and missile defense as the country eyes the threat from North Korea and China.

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In response to the rapid modernisation of the Chinese military, Japan has decided to acquire a total of 105 F-35A aircraft over the next decade, in addition to 42 F-35B aircraft.

At the end of 2018, the Japanese government approved a five-year defence plan that includes the entry of two aircraft carriers into its arsenal - a first since the end of World War II.

AFP

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