On Friday, Japan signed a lucrative deal with the United States to purchase several F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin for $756.53 million.
With significant budget cuts expected to come for the Department of Defense, the multi-million dollar deal brings good news to the defense company, as executives are looking to the orders to help maintain production rates at the company’s F-35 plant in Fort Worth, Texas, Reuters reports.
According to a company spokesman, Japan — a country whose constitution technically prohibits it from maintaining a military — signed a contract to receive four conventional takeoff variants of the joint strike fighter at $128.61 million a piece, along with two simulators and other equipment for $240.83 million.
Production on the F-35 jets began in 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2016. The jet performs ground attacks, reconnaissance and air defense missions with stealth capabilities. With three main models, the planes are the said to be the “most capable, cost-effective tactical aircraft in the history of warfare,” Forbes reports.
While lawmakers in Washington are worried about the progress of the nation’s largest weapons program, costs of the plane are lowering and international buyers are lining up. The planes are being developed for the United States and eight other partner countries including Britain, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Italy, Turkey and the Netherlands.
Leaders in Israel and Singapore have expressed interest in purchasing the planes and Asian observers believe South Korea will be the next to sign on as buyers.
Japan announced its plan to purchase 42 of the F-35s in December, but warned it might cancel the order following the Pentagon’s own postponement for 179 F-35s for the United States.
Experts predict costs of procurement and development will equal $396 billion over the next 20 years.