Japan warns U.S. price of F-35 fighter must not rise

TOKYO Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:34am GMT

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TOKYO Feb 22 (Reuters) - Japan has repeatedly warned the United States against price rises in Lockheed Martin Corp's new F-35 fighter jet, its top government spokesman said on Wednesday, after U.S. and Lockheed officials noted delays in orders will increase its total cost.

The comments from Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura come after Japan's Sankei newspaper cited unidentified U.S. government officials as saying that Japan had threatened that it may even cancel its orders if prices climbed.

Japan picked the F-35 as its next mainstay fighter in December, choosing it over combat-proven but less stealthy rivals.

"When we were selecting the fighter, we asked those making the proposals to strictly observe their proposed prices and supply schedules. Japan has conveyed this to the U.S. from time to time," Fujimura told a news conference.

The Pentagon last week confirmed plans to put off orders for 179 F-35s over the next five years to save $15.1 billion, a move that Lockheed executive vice president Tom Burbage told Reuters would increase the price of the plane somewhat.

Canadian officials have been told the price of their jets would increase by a nominal percentage amount "in the low single digits" as a result of the U.S. slowdown.

Japan's Defense Ministry has said each jet would cost 8.9 billion yen ($112 million), or 9.9 billion yen including spare parts. The ministry plans to buy 4 jets in the year beginning in April and 42 units eventually. ($1 = 79.7500 Japanese yen) (Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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