Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) rolled out the first Japanese-assembled F-35A fighter in a ceremony at Komaki. The stealth jet is one of thirty-eight for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) that will emerge from MHI’s Final Assembly and Checkout Facility (FACO) for the F-35. Four more have been completed and delivered from Lockheed Martin’s assembly line in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Seeing the first Japanese built F-35A is a testament to the global nature of this program,” said Vice Admiral Mat Winter, Executive Officer of the U.S. government’s new F-35 program. “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,” he continued. Separately, MHI’s Komaki facility has been designated by the F-35 Joint Program Office as the North Asia-Pacific regional heavy airframe maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade (MROU) facility.

The JASDF is replacing aging F-4s with the F-35, but it also eventually will replace its F-15s. Therefore, Japan might order additional F-35s. Another option would be for the country to proceed with a production version of its own stealth fighter, the X-2.