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Japan buying JSF aircraft helps Australia

Dec. 23, 2011 at 2:27 PM

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Japan buying Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters assists Australia, an Australian Ministry of Defense spokesman said.

Tokyo's purchase of F-35s will assist Australia by decreasing the price Australia will pay to acquire and operate its own $10 billion fleet of the fifth-generation stealth fighters, The Canberra Times reported Thursday, citing an unnamed source.

Australia's 2009 defense white paper advocated that Australia buy 100 JSFs for an estimated cost of about $13 billion.

Japan has placed an initial order for four JSF jets to be delivered in 2012, with an additional order of 40 aircraft in 2014, with a total of 200 JSFs over the life of the program.

While Australia has initial agreed to purchase 14 F-35s at an estimated cost of roughly $3 billion, analysts says the announced Japanese, and possibly another from South Korea, deal will keep the JSF production the line operating at a capacity that is expected to reach four planes a month by mid-2012, potentially lowering costs through the increased scale of production.

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