Good news for Lockheed Martin and the F-35 program from Japan:
The Pentagon office that runs the Lockheed Martin Corp on Monday hailed news that Japan had selected the F-35 as its next generation fighter and said it would help strengthen partnerships with Japan…
Japan is the second country besides Israel to order the F-35 under the U.S. government’s foreign military sales program. Lockheed is developing three variants of the radar-evading fighter for the United States and eight partner countries: Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, which have contributed to its development cost.
The F-35 program office said Japan’s requirement was for 40-50 new fighters, and the initial letter of agreement will include four conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft to be delivered in 2016 with an eighth batch of low-rate initial production planes.
The buy is expected to amount to around $4 billion in sales, Japan having chosen the F-35 over Boeing’s Super Hornet and the EU’s Typhoon.
Not so good news for Northrop Grumman and our South Korean allies, however:
The sale of as many as four Northrop Grumman Corp. Global Hawk drones to help improve South Korea’s reconnaissance capability may have stalled.
The delay, combined with a potential reduction in U-2 surveillance flights over and near North Korea, might degrade U.S. and South Korea ability to monitor events in the communist regime, lawmakers said in a report accompanying the $662 billion defense policy bill for fiscal 2012.
They didn’t elaborate on the reasons behind the delay. The report said only that the possible sale “appears to have stalled” and that House and Senate defense committee lawmakers “intend to assess whether the risk of a gap in intelligence collection in Korea is significant and to examine alternative capabilities.”
Well, considering that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il’s body was cooling for two days before his death was officially announced by the North Korean Central News Agency, there certainly appears to be an intelligence gap:
For South Korean and American intelligence services to have failed to pick up any clues to this momentous development — panicked phone calls between government officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr. Kim’s train — attests to the secretive nature of North Korea, a country not only at odds with most of the world but also sealed off from it in a way that defies spies or satellites.
Asian and American intelligence services have failed before to pick up significant developments in North Korea. Pyongyang built a sprawling plant to enrich uranium that went undetected for about a year and a half until North Korean officials showed it off in late 2010 to an American nuclear scientist. The North also helped build a complete nuclear reactor in Syria without tipping off Western intelligence.
I’m not sure that Global Hawks would have helped there, but when it comes to the Norks, every little bit helps.