We missed this bit of news last week but the Department of Defense has formally notified Congress that it plans to arrange the sale of F-35 jets by Lockheed Martin to Japan.
Japan announced last December that it had selected the F-35 as its next generation multi-role combat jet, a move roundly cheered in Fort Worth by Lockheed and its employees. The notification by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency gives Congress until the end of the month to object to the sale, which is highly unlikely to happen.
The agency is essentially saying it plans to allow the Japanese government to negotiate a deal with the U.S. and Lockheed for the first four of up to 42 jets. The estimated value of the entire package is $10 billion, according to the notification. That figure includes the airplanes and all of the included radar, electronic warfare, weapons and other systems, as well as support tools and equipment.
When Japan announced its intentions to acquire F-35s Lockheed officials say they expected the order for the first four planes to be completed in the first half of 2012.
The roughly $238 million a copy cost for acquiring the jets and all the supporting systems and equipment has caught the eye of the Japanese press.
Japan will buy the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing model, the one destined for use by the U.S. Air Force and also expected to be the choice of most foreign buyers.