Troubled Partnership

A History of U.S.-Japan Collaboration on the FS-X Fighter

by Mark A. Lorell

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The United States has generally tried to discourage its allies from developing their own major weapons systems, to promote equipment standardization with U.S. forces, and tie allied security policies more firmly to U.S. interests. Japan's FS-X fighter is perhaps the most prominent example of this policy. Japan had originally intended to design and build an indigenous fighter; the Pentagon urged Japan to buy an existing U.S. fighter. After difficult negotiations, the two sides eventually agreed to lightly modify the U.S. F-16 jointly to meet Japan's special needs. But as a result of political controversies over technology transfer and trade, the U.S. side focused increasingly on the economic aspects of the program. Under cover of these controversies, the Japanese have been able to move the FS-X design and technology applications ever farther away from the F-16 toward a much more nearly indigenous creation. In the end, the FS-X program has failed to meet many of the original U.S. expectations, and Japan has reaped an unexpected reward — experience in developing a world-class fighter aircraft. This book presents a history of the program, while a companion volume, MR-612/1-AF, summarizes and assesses the program.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    The U.S. Quest for Technology Reciprocity

  • Chapter Three

    Japan's Postwar Quest for a National Fighter

  • Chapter Four

    Building the Fighter Technology Base

  • Chapter Five

    The Battle Joined: Stopping the Rising Sun Fighter

  • Chapter Six

    Collaboration Imposed

  • Chapter Seven

    The Struggle over Program Control

  • Chapter Eight

    The Storm Breaks in Congress

  • Chapter Nine

    The Showdown over FS-X and Its Aftermath

  • Chapter Ten

    The Rising Sun Fighter Reborn?

  • Chapter Eleven

    The First Three Years of R&D: Gaining Access to Japanese FS-X Technologies

  • Chapter Twelve

    An Interim Technology Balance Sheet

  • Chapter Thirteen

    Rethinking Collaboration

  • References

  • Index

Research conducted by

This book emerged from a RAND research project conducted in the early 1990s on collaboration with Asian allies on military aircraft R&D. The Resource Management and System Acquisition Program of RAND's Project AIR FORCE initiated this research, which was sponsored by the United States Air Force.

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