TOKYO, June 9 (UPI) -- Japan prefers to buy the F-22 stealth fighter, and not the F-35, from the United States, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Tuesday.
"We are still seeking the possibility of acquiring the F-22, but if that does not work out, we will have to consider not just the F-35 but others as options," Hamada said, Kyodo News reported. "As of today, we still want to seek the F-22."
The minister was responding to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' reported recommendation that Japan consider the F-35 Lightning II jet, which is seen as less stealthy, the report said. A spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department had been quoted as saying U.S. laws do not permit the export of F-22s.
"That's why the secretary made the further point to his Japanese counterpart that the F-35 is the plane which we are pursuing and the plane that we would recommend the Japanese focus their efforts in terms of procuring in the future,'' the spokesman said.
The Kyodo report said the Japanese Defense Ministry and the Air Self-Defense Force had long sought the F-22 Raptor to replace the aging F-4EJ fighter fleet.