The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has selected Japan and Australia to provide heavy airframe and engine maintenance in the Pacific, the Joint Program Office announced Wednesday.
Japan and Australia will be responsible for heavy airframe maintenance for the northern and southern Pacific regions. Australia will be the center of heavy engine maintenance starting in 2018; Japan will follow as an engine maintainer three to five years later.
“Heavy” maintenance covers work involving changes or repair to the body of the aircraft, such as a replacement of a bulkhead or the fixing of a wing.
Australia is the only full Pacific partner in the F-35 program, with a planned buy of 100 F-35 models. Japan and South Korea are foreign military sales customers on the jet, with plans to buy 42 and 40 fighters, respectively.
Japan has also agreed to develop a final assembly and check-out (FACO) facility, which Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program head, said is still being stood up.
He also noted that, unlike similar facilities in Italy and Texas, the Japanese FACO is being built vertically rather than spread across a large footprint, a result of Japan’s limited land to build on.