Crunch choice on new jet fighter looms over Tokyo air show
* Japan Aerospace 2016 air show kicks off in Tokyo on Wednesday
* Decision on new F-3 jet fighter key for industry, military
* Japan's last domestic jet fighter seen as expensive failure
By Tim Kelly and Nobuhiro Kubo
TOKYO, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Faced with a growing North Korean threat and expanding Chinese power, Japan's military and aerospace industry will use this week's airshow in Tokyo to push the case to develop a highly advanced, and costly, stealth fighter jet.
The new fighter, dubbed the F-3, will serve as a key component of Japanese air power in the coming decades and could cost Asia's second biggest military as much as $40 billion, depending on its specifications.
Tokyo faces a crunch choice between ordering an industry-pleasing advanced stealth fighter or opting for a cheaper conventional combat jet that will deliver a bigger bang for taxpayers' yen.
In March, Japan's Ministry of Defence issued a request for information (RFI) to gauge interest among foreign aerospace companies for jointly developing the F-3, which would operate alongside Lockheed Martin's new F-35s and older F-15s.
"It cuts to the core of the future of Japanese defence industry," said an industry source, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to talk to the media. "The rising threat from China and most immediately North Korea no longer supports a relaxed industrial base. There is now a premium on actual capability." Continued...