By Kiyoshi Takenaka
Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighters are the best choice for Japan’s future operational needs, the nation’s highest-ranking uniformed officer said on Wednesday, in a vote of confidence for the state-of-the-art U.S. warplane.
His comments follow reports that some nations that have placed orders for the F-35s may reconsider their plans.
Shigeru Iwasaki, chief of the Japanese Self-Defence Forces’ Joint Staff, also said advancement of North Korea’s arms technology in a series of nuclear and missile tests posed a serious threat to Japan, but its missile defense system should provide the country with sufficient protection.
“When I was the head of the air force, I spearheaded the decision (to procure F-35s). Or, rather, we drew up a plan, which was then approved by defense minister,” said Iwasaki, a veteran fighter pilot who used to fly F-15s, Japan’s current mainstay combat airplane.
“There were various candidates. But I still believe the F-35 is the best fighter, when we think about Japan’s future national security,” he said in an interview with Reuters.