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DoD ramps up F35 production runs for foreign buyers

January 9, 2012

The Department of Defense has awarded $194 billion worth of contracts for the next production run of the F35 fighter.  This in itself is not an unusual story, but InsideDefense.com reports (registration and purchase required) that Pentago officials expect the next two production runs to be as much as 40% larger than originally planned, due to an expected surge in foreign orders.  Foreign sales will be to formal F-35 partners  such as UK, Turkey, Australia, Italy and Norway.  Israel will also take delivery of 3 out of a planned total of 25 jets.  However, these were all anticipated purchases and do not represent any “surge” of purchases.  Late last year, Japan announced that it would purchase over 40 F-35s, and others anticipated that South Korea would purchase a similar number.  India, after having ruled the F-35 out of its own competition for their next generation fighter, also re-opened to door to that possibility.

The F-35 is a crucial indicator in the Geopolitics of Defense Systems.  Nations that purchase such advanced weapons systems tie themselves and their national defense to the United States in complex ways.  The DoD had been purchasing F-35s at a slow rate, so a ramping up of productions capability might be a genuine sign that the big East and South Asian purchases are indeed forthcoming.

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