Looks like Japan is going to get those fighter jets it's been asking for. On Monday, the Department of Defense announced that it has awarded Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) a $40.2 million fixed-price-incentive (firm-target), advance-acquisition foreign military sales contract. (Hopefully, they're not charging extra for adjectives.)
The object of the contract: to fund Lockheed's purchase of "long lead-time parts, materials and components required for the delivery of four Low Rate Initial Production Lot VIII F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Takeoff and Landing aircraft for the government of Japan."
Japan has been asking for years for the right to purchase F-22 Raptor fighter jets from the U.S. to beef up its air defenses against a bellicose North Korea and an increasingly technologically advanced China, which reportedly has two "fifth-generation" stealth fighters of its own in the works -- the Chengdu J-20 and the Shenyang J-31. The U.S., however, canceled the F-22 program without ever approving a single sale to Japan, leaving the F-35 as the only remaining U.S.-built fifth-generation fighter available to buy.
Fortunately, it looks like Japan will get to buy this one. The country has 42 of the planes on order already. Lockheed is expected to wrap up its advance parts purchases by 2014, with production to begin thereafter.