WASHINGTON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Wednesday said it chose both Japan and Australia to carry out heavy airframe maintenance for the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet in Asia, given the high cost of transporting jets across vast distances in the region.
Japan would handle heavy maintenance for the jets in the northern Pacific, while Australia would handle maintenance in the southern Pacific region, a Pentagon official said.
Heavy repairs and maintenance of the F135 engine that powers the jet would initially be done in Australia for the Asian region, with Japan to set up a similar site in Japan after five years, Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan told reporters. The engine is built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, Bogdan said.
Bogdan said the U.S. Defense Department would reexamine its F-35 maintenance assignments every two to three years. The decisions pave the way for billions of dollars of work by companies in the selected countries. He said the heavy maintenance work of engines and airframes would be done under the oversight of the U.S. government, along with Lockheed. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal)