This statement below has totally changed my position on Japan and the F-22.
Ex-chief systems engineer for the F-22 is “convinced that Japan can get fully equivalent capabilities in the areas of its needs at lower overall cost by other routes.”
And that for the US to recommend the F-22 to Japan is like encouraging a good friend to drink and drive.
NBR’S JAPAN FORUM (POL) F22s for Japan: more signals to North Korea?
But there are what I regard as more substantial reasons to question the
feasibility and desirability of purchasing the F-22 as well.
I say this recognizing very well the strength of Japanese desire for the aircraft. During a recent visit to Tokyo I had occasion to speak with a number of top air force officers as well as civilians involved in defense matters, and all made it clear that they feel Japan must have F-22s.
More than two decades ago, at the inception of the program, I was the chief systems engineer for the F-22 at Lockheed. That is to say that I know a great deal more about it than one can read in the press. There is no doubt that it is a very impressive airplane with no equal in the world.
It is also an extraordinarily expensive airplane. The 50 aircraft Japan needs would cost roughly $10 billion to buy (with spares and support equipment), and would have high ongoing operating costs. It is likely that any aircraft needing major repair or modification would have to be shipped back to the United States.
I am convinced that Japan can get fully equivalent capabilities in the areas of its needs at lower overall cost by other routes. I recognize that Japanese do not like to be told what they need by outsiders, but for the United States to encourage Japan to buy F-22s would be like encouraging a good friend to drink lots of alcohol before he sets out to drive home.