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Japan Will Buy U.S. Jet Fighter, Not Build Its Own

October 03, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Japan has decided to buy an American jet fighter rather than develop a new airplane on its own, a Pentagon official said Friday.

The decision was disclosed to Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger by the head of Japan's Defense Agency at a closed-door meeting at the Pentagon, said the official, who refused to be identified.

Yuko Kurihara, director general of the agency, told Weinberger that within the next month, the Japanese government will select one of two front-line U.S. Air Force jets--either the F-15 Eagle or the F-16 Fighting Falcon--to become its so-called FSX support fighter, the source said. The F-15 is made by McDonnell Douglas and the F-16 by General Dynamics.

The winning plane will be modified to some extent by the Japanese to improve its ability to attack sea targets, the official added.

Kurihara told Weinberger that Japan had eliminated the U.S. Navy's FA-18 jet fighter rom the competition because that plane would cost too much to modify to suit Japan's purposes, the official said.

Regardless of which plane is selected, the Japanese plan to do much of the construction in Japan under license to the American company. Nonetheless, the decision could be worth more than $1 billion dollars to the U.S. firms whose plane is selected..

Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) applauded Japan's decision, calling it "the right choice in terms of advancing our common security interests and in terms of easing the frictions in our relationship."

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