Japan, Australia Selected for Pacific F-35 Sustainment
Date: Dec 17, 2014
Source: DefenseNews – By AARON MEHTA
WASHINGTON — The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has selected Japan and Australia to provide heavy airframe and engine maintenance in the Pacific, the Joint Program Office announced Wednesday.
Japan and Australia will be responsible for heavy airframe maintenance for the northern and southern Pacific regions. Australia will be the center of heavy engine maintenance starting in 2018; Japan will follow as an engine maintainer three to five years later.
“Heavy” maintenance covers work involving changes or repair to the body of the aircraft, such as a replacement of a bulkhead or the fixing of a wing.
Australia is the only full Pacific partner in the F-35 program, with a planned buy of 100 F-35 models. Japan and South Korea are foreign military sales customers on the jet, with plans to buy 42 and 40 fighters, respectively.
Japan has also agreed to develop a final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility, which Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program head, said is still being stood up.
He also noted that, unlike similar facilities in Italy and Texas, the Japanese FACO is being built vertically rather than spread across a large footprint, a result of Japan’s limited land to build on.
“The fact that Japan is investing their own money in building a FACO, and that FACO, with less investment than standing up something from the very beginning, could be transitioned into a maintenance capability, is a big factor, because for the enterprise that’s a great value,” Bogdan said. “Japan invests its own money in building a facility that with minimal investment on their part could be turned into a regional capability. So it was a factor in looking at what was best value.”