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.