June 5, 2017 (by Mike Rein) - The first Japanese-assembled F-35A was unveiled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Komaki South F-35 Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility on June 5th. The Japan F-35 FACO is operated by MHI with technical assistance from Lockheed Martin and oversight from the U.S. Government.
The first F-35A (of 38) to be assembled in Japan at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) F-35 Final Assembly & Check-Out (FACO) facility in Nagoya was unveiled on June 5th, 2017. [Lockheed Martin photo by Thinh Nguyen]
Approximately 200 people attended the ceremony including Japanese and United States government and defense industry leaders. The ceremony highlighted the strong partnership between the Japanese Ministry of Defense, U.S. Department of Defense, MHI and Lockheed Martin.
Kenji Wakamiya, senior vice minister of defense; Gen. Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) chief of staff; Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander, U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force; Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer; Vice Adm. Dave Lewis, Defense Contract Management Agency Director; Naohiko Abe, MHI's senior vice president and Integrated Defense & Space Systems president, and Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, attended the milestone event.
"Seeing the first Japanese built F-35A is a testament to the global nature of this program," said Vice Adm. Mat Winter, F-35 Program Executive Officer. "This state of the art assembly facility, staffed with a talented and motivated workforce, enables us to leverage industry's unique talents and technological know-how to produce the world's best multi-role fighter. The F-35 will enhance the strength of our security alliances and reinforce long-established bonds with our allies through training opportunities, exercises, and military-to-military events."
The Japanese Ministry of Defense competitively selected the F-35A as the JASDF's next-generation air defense fighter in December 2011, with a Foreign Military Sales program of record of 42 F-35As. The first four JASDF F-35As were previously delivered from the Fort Worth, Texas, production facility. Subsequent deliveries of 38 F-35A aircraft will come from the FACO here in Japan.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense selected the Nagoya FACO in 2014 for the North Asia-Pacific regional heavy airframe Maintenance Repair Overhaul & Upgrade (MROU) facility.
"Building upon our enduring relationship with Japanese industry, we are fully committed to our F-35 production partnership with MHI and our support to the Japan Ministry of Defense," Carvalho said. "The skilled workers who achieved this milestone know firsthand the F-35's capability and how this aircraft will only strengthen the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance, thereby building upon Japan's strategic vision to ensure the Alliance remains strong for decades to come."