Aug. 28 (UPI) -- Lockheed Martin Co. will build a maintenance repair and upgrade facility in Japan for its F-35 fighter plane fleet under a $25.2 million contract announced by the U.S. Defense Department.
The contract, announced Tuesday, calls for construction of a regional facility to handle repairs, as well as maintenance and upgrades, on Japan's F-35s.
The facility, specifically "for the Government of Japan under the Foreign Military Sales program," is expected to be completed by September 2022. The majority of work will be performed in Nagoya, where the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force operates Nagoya Komaki Air Force Base and Japan was formerly constructing its own F-35s.
The Japanese fleet has 42 F-35s, and the nation announced plans in 2018 to purchase 105 more of the fifth generation fighter. The aircraft includes stealth technology, advanced sensors, weapons capacity and range, is regarded as the most lethal, survivable and connected fighter aircraft ever built.
The United States has the overwhelming majority of the 420 F-35s built to date, and an F-35 base at Misawa Air Base in Japan, with plans to obtain about 1,800 more of the aircraft.
In April, Gen. Charles Brown, commander of the U.S. Pacific Air Forces, said he expects the United States and its allies to have over 200 F-35 planes deployed in the Asia-Pacific region by 2025. He referred to China, which has been expanding its military power rapidly, as an "existential threat" to the United States.
Around the South Pacific, Australia has 14 F-35s, with 58 on order and 28 more orders planned, South Korea also has six, with orders for 34 more, and Taiwan and Singapore are among countries that have expressed interest in purchasing the aircraft as well.