MELBOURNE, Australia – Japan has confirmed that it will put 68 license-built Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle interceptors through an upgrade that will improve its radar, electronic warfare, weapons carriage capacity and stand-off weapon capabilities.
A document released by the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency, or ATLA, in early February also estimated that the total cost of the upgrade and sustainment of its F-15 fleet up to 2045 will cost 646.5 billion Japanese yen or $5.62 billion.
An MoD spokesman confirmed to Defense News that the 68 F-15s that will receive the upgrade will be single-seat F-15Js that have previously gone through the Multi-Stage Improvement Program.
However, the fate of 34 remaining post-MSIP Japan Air Self-Defense Force or JASDF F-15s, which are two-seat F-15DJs, is still up in the air with the MoD still “holding internal discussions,” the spokesman told Defense News.
The spokesman also confirmed that the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, or JASSM, would be integrated with the upgraded F-15s. Japanese media had previously reported that another weapon by the contractor, the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM, was dropped from the upgrade program due to cost concerns.
The remaining 99 Japanese F-15s that have not been put through the earlier MSIP program have been deemed unsuitable to be further upgraded and will be replaced over the coming years by the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Japan has plans to eventually operate 157 F-35s split among 105 F-35A conventional take-off and landing variants and 42 F-35B short-take off and vertical landing aircraft.
The ATLA document emphasized that the upgrade program will be done in-country, although elements will still be procured though the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program.
This FMS portion almost certainly refers to equipment listed in an October 2019 State Department approval for the Japanese F-15 upgrade, which had said the program could see “up to 98″ aircraft upgraded.
Systems listed in the approval include the Raytheon AN/APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array radar, BAE Systems’ ALQ-239 Digital Electronic Warfare System (DEWS), new mission computers and radios.
Boeing has already been awarded a $471 million contract in late December 2021 for the design and development of an integrated suite of aircraft systems and the development, test, and delivery of four weapon system trainers for Japan’s F-15 upgrade under the FMS portion of the program.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.