Japan considering Eurofighter?

Japan’s defence ministry is considering adopting the Eurofighter as its next- generation fighter jet, a potentially momentous move for a country that has until now only purchased fighters from the US, its closest military ally.

A decision could be made within the next six months, people familiar with the negotiations said, and the pro­curement deal could run to tens of billions of dollars as Tokyo is looking to replace 250-300 ageing aeroplanes. “We are looking at the Eurofighter, along with other fighters,” said a ­defence ministry spokesman. “We are looking at all available data, not just American data.”

Military analysts say that Japan might be assessing the Eurofighter Typhoon as a ploy to press the US on price and access to highly sensitive technology.

Robert Dujarric, a defence expert at Temple University, said Japan would want the political insurance that went along with US jets. He pointed out that Singapore and South Korea both considered buying European fighters before eventually opting for US technology.

The defence ministry needs to replace its fleet of 90 F-4s, which went into service in 1971, and plan for the eventual retirement of its 200 F-15 fighters.

Industry experts say the Japanese really want to buy state-of-the-art F-22A Raptor stealth fighters, made by Lockheed Martin. But that ambition has been thwarted by the US Congress, which has banned the sale of the radar-evading F-22.

Interesting...wonder if Jap firms would get any of the workshare?
It's not just Japan. It would appear that India is also in the market to replace 126 of their aircraft as well. The Times business section ran a small piece on it a week ago which can be read here. Unfortunately the Eurofighter is up against the F16, F18, Mig-29 and possibly the Rafale and Gripen as well so it's going to be a crowded and tough fight. Plus they've already stated flat out that they'd prefer the F-22 and like the FT says they could just be using the whole affair as an excuse to press Americans. Would be nice if they did win though. As for work share, I be exceedingly surprised if their local defence industries didn't get at least a respectable amount of manufacturing offset agreements for certain sub-sections.
Jane's is reporting that Eurofighter, F-15 and F-18 are the only options for the Japanese deal left. They've been told they aren't allowed the F-22 and the Japanese ministry of defence has ruled out Rafale and the like.
What about the F-35?

I know it doesn't exist yet, but the more orders in advance, the higher the chances that it will get built and the lower the per unit cost.

It seems like the Japanese may want their new aircraft fairly quickly, given the age of their existing F-4 Phantoms, which means that they want an aircraft that is already in service. This would rule out the F-35.

The F-15 Eagle, although a superlative fighter and already in Japanese service is approaching the end of it's production run. So personally, I think it will be down to the F-18 and the Typhoon.

I think that the Indians will opt for a Russian design and like the Japanese, will probably build it themselves, under licence.
Makes sense, they've got a long history of defence ties to the USSR/Russia and buying their hardware. When you're looking to replace your Mig-21s going for a plane from the same design bureau and manufacturers like the Mig-29 would seem logical. Less to relearn for both the pilots and ground crews I'd expect since there's bound to be a fair amount of commonality between the two to at least start working from. Plus there's the all important factor of price since unlike the Japanese the Indians aren't as financially well of, and I'd be willing to lay odds that the Mikoyan is bound to be the least expensive of the lot.
JSF probably won't be ready in time to replace the F-4s, and questions would be asked about why a self defence force needs stealth capability for 'first night of the war' operations.

As far as timing goes, the RAF/RN JSFs are unlikely to be operational until 2017 (and we're the level one partner), so a Japanese buy would be in service even later - probably 2020.

By that point the oldest Japanese F-4 airframes would be pushing 50, with the youngest being 35.

Also, the unit costs for JSF are all over the place. The projections (originally in the high $30 million dollar bracket, depending on version) have gone up - some of the more pessimistic projected figures suggest it could be more expensive to buy than Typhoon. The exact numbers that will be ordered aren't anywhere near as clear as they first were either (USAF wants more F-22s, USN may buy more F/A-18s and reduce JSF buy; we may buy 20% fewer than we said we would; the Norwegians may withdraw entirely, etc, etc).
The word on the street is that there's not much that can get anywhere close to the Typhoon - except the F22. Despite its teething problems, the Typhoon IS a superb bit of kit. It makes sense for the sons of Nippon to go for the best they can afford, and if the F22 isn't on the table, then I think the Typhoon has a more than reasonable chance of success over less capable contenders. The Indians will likely stick with Russian kit: Su-27s (and derivatives) etc., though it would be nice to see a Typhoon with IAF markings, as they have used Brit jets in the past. I seriously doubt that it has even been considered by the IAF.

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