You’ve heard this one: A butterfly flaps its wings and a hurricane is spawned a hemisphere away.
Here’s another one: Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s dear leader, points a missile at Japan — and a Lockheed worker in Marietta keeps his job.
U.S. defense officials are preparing a version of the stealth F-22 Raptor that Japan has expressed strong interest in buying.
While the Department of Defense is working to design an export version of the Raptor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, this week sent a letter to Japanese Ambassador the United States Ichiro Fujisaki saying that the F-22 would likely carry a price tag of $290 million.
Japan has made it known it would like to buy 40 F-22s, made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, so the potential value of the deal is more than $11 billion.
There is competition, of course.
Japanese defense officials are reportedly looking at other aircraft, including Lockheed’s F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is manufactured by a consortium of Alenia Aeronautica, BAE Systems and EADS. Neither have all the stealth capabilities of the Raptor, making them substantially less expensive. The Typhoon is estimated to be about $105 million per plane.
“We are still seeking the possibility of acquiring the F-22 but if that does not work out, we will have to consider not just the F-35, but others as options,” Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told Kyodo News Agency. “As of today, we still want to seek the F-22.”
The UPI article also offers up a link between the current congressional push for continued federal funding and overseas marketing of the F-22, which right now is strictly prohibited because of its radar-evading technology.
Inouye’s letter is seen as a spotlight to keep attention focused on the F-22, but even with congressional and Japanese interest in a deal, it comes down to a decision by the Obama administration.
The Office of Management and Budget, a White House Cabinet-level office, suggested President Barack Obama turn back budget requests for additional F-22s, which could put a hole in production timelines and force the price to Japan even higher.
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