Both Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, the world's two largest aerospace and defence suppliers, are wooing Japan and South Korea to sell their fighter jets, even as domestic military spending in the US shows signs of slowing down.
Speaking to the media at the Singapore Airshow, Lockheed's George Standridge, vice president, F-35 programme, said that the company would promote the F-35 Lightning II fighter as a contender whenever the Japanese government invites bids.
``The Japanese are now deciding on an RFP and sitting back and watching the F-35 programme to gain confidence in the plane,'' Standridge said. ``It must be considered by the Japanese, it's just a matter of when.''
Meanwhile, Joe Song, vice- president, Asia-Pacific region, Boeing, said that the company would offer it's F-15 and F/A-18 Super Hornet whenever the Japanese Request For Proposal was issued.
Lockheed and Boeing are increasingly looking towards gaining orders outside the US to offset a decrease in domestic military spending as the war in Iraq winds down and a new presidency is likely to slash down defence spending.
Both the aerospace giants are also in contention for an $11 billion Indian Air force tender for 126 multi-role fighter aircraft.
According to Standridge Lockheed Martin expects to win 500 orders for the F-35 Lightning II from global customers.
Meanwhile, Boeing's Song said that the company was also negotiating with the South Korean government for the sale of another 20 F-15K fighter jets, worth about $2.4 billion. South Korea had ordered 40 F-15Ks from Boeing in 2002, and is expected to call bids for another 60 aircraft of similar capabilities.
Lockheed Martin is making three different versions of the F-35 Lightning II supersonic stealth fighter for the US and allied nations. The F-35 is now more than halfway through its 12-year development phase.
The three versions will have 80 per cent commonality in parts, which will lower maintenance costs. According to Standridge, the F-35 Lightning II is projected to cost about $45 million and is designed to replace the F-16 and Boeing's F/A-18 Hornet.
He also said that Lockheed would be able to take the first export orders for the aircraft in 2014, depending on US government approval, and that there would be a three-year period between order and delivery of the aircraft.
Singapore, along with the UK, Italy and Australia are global partners in the F-35 development programme.