There is a hint of good news for whoever wins the F-X fighter competition in this week's news that Japan is moving closer to cooperative weapons development. (See the Aviation Week Intelligence Network for our report.)
The hint is that if Japan seeks to replace its F-15Js by working on the next U.S. Air Force fighter, as implied by the latest Japanese musings, then delays to the U.S. program will become a serious problem for Tokyo.
The Next Generation Tactical Aircraft program is intended to deliver a fighter around 2030, by which time the F-15J will have been in Japanese service for 49 years and will surely need prompt replacement.
If the program slipped, then the alternative would be to buy more of the aircraft to be ordered under F-X. The competitors are the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning, Eurofighter Typhoon and Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.