Peter La Franchi / Berlin

The Eurofighter consortium is looking at options to develop a Japanese-specific variant of the Typhoon as one possible approach to contesting Tokyo’s expected medium-term competition to replace its Mitsubishi/McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ fighters.

The plan would have close parallels to Japan’s development of the Mitsubishi F-2 fighter based on Lockheed Martin’s F-16, the company says, and could involve significant technology transfer to Japan.

Japanese requirements for a major domestic industry role in its military aircraft programmes, coupled with constitutional prohibitions on its participation in the international arms trade, is prompting exploration of a wide array of alternative approaches. Eurofighter says it does not believe Japan would see licence-manufacturing arrangements for the basic Eurofighter model as an acceptable industrial option.

Other approaches might involve providing Japanese manufacturers with workshare on European civil aircraft production programmes as a means of ensuring compliance with the Japanese constitution.

The Japan Typhoon campaign is being run by BAE Systems. Eurofighter says the UK is making “good progress on the political side” in ongoing talks with Japan about its requirements. BAE confirms it is considering a range of options to meet Japanese requirements before the release of a detailed requirements document.

The UK government, meanwhile, is negotiating a Typhoon deal with Saudi Arabia, but declines to provide further details.

Source: Flight International