In August 2018, the Nikkei Asian Review detailed aspects of a proposal by Lockheed Martin to partner with Japanese companies to produce a new model of the F-22 Raptor, the world’s most capable air-superiority fighter jet. The stealth fighter would be upgraded with avionics and radar-absorbent material technologies developed for the newer, more affordable F-35 Lightning .
Japan is license-building forty-two F-35s but is not entirely satisfied with the multi-role jet, which was designed to penetrate enemy air defenses. By contrast, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force is foremost concerned with patrolling the skies around the far-flung Japanese islands against intrusion by Russian or Chinese warplanes and missiles. Though the F-35’s stealth characteristics have allowed it to heavily out-perform non-stealth jets in mock air battles, it’s still not as optimized for air-to-air combat as the Raptor, particularly for Within-Visual Range engagements