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The Lockheed F-35 is an advanced stealth fifth generation fighter combining speed and superb agility. There are three variants; F-35A, B and C. The F-35A CTOL (Conventional Take Off and Landing) and has four internal weapons stations in two weapons bays plus three optional external weapons stations. The F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) variant while the F-35C is a CV (Carrier Variant). The F-35 will replace the USAF A-10 and F-16, the F/A-18 for the USN and the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the USMC.

The maiden flight of the first Japan Self Defence Force Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II took place on August 24, 2016 and delivered to Luke AFB, Arizona. The F-35A 69-8701 (also designated AX-1) will become part of the international training fleet operated by the 944th FW. Japan has agreed to purchase 28 F-35As over 5 years with possibly acquiring an additional 14 aircraft. The first aircraft to arrive in Japan will be based at Misawa AB operated by the 301 and 302 Squadrons. 38 aircraft will be license-built in Japan by Mitsubishi.