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News | July 8, 2024

DCMA Pacific enhances US-Japanese alignment with DOD visit

By Elizabeth Szoke DCMA Public Affairs

Defense Contract Management Agency International recently welcomed Department of Defense leaders to the Pacific region during their visit to a F-35 assembly facility here.  

Dr. William LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, and other defense leaders traveled to the region after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. President Joe Biden entered an agreement to accelerate military industrial cooperations.  

“Our main role was to facilitate the USD A&S’s visit to the Mitsubishi Heavy Industry plant, where nine resident DCMA employees work,” said Navy Cmdr. Thomas Miyano, commander, DCMA Japan. “We play a small role in the big picture of recent discussions between our two countries’ leaders.”   

During LaPlante’s visit with his Japanese counterpart, they agreed to establish different working groups, which includes maintenance and repair of U.S. Air Force aircraft in the region, falling under DCMA’s area of responsibility. 

“F-35As are produced, maintained, repaired, overhauled, and upgraded here, and DCMA inspects aircraft throughout production,” said Miyano. “The team also conducts two acceptance flights, accepts them upon conclusion of the flights, and then transfers the aircraft to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.” 

All aircraft, including new productions and those undergoing maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrade, or MROU, are transferred to the JASDF in support of the U.S.-Japan partnership with future plans of incorporating the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs to the facility for MROU by 2029. 

“Immaculately designed aircraft is not airworthy until it is built within certain specifications,” Miyano said. “DCMA assures critical specifications are met during production through inspections, surveillances and acceptance flights.”   

The U.S. secretary of defense and Japan minister of defense signed a bilateral security of supply arrangement to increase opportunities for US-Japanese collaboration on improving defense capabilities last year. This agreement includes the exchange of support in national defense, which supports the expeditious handling of industrial resources to resolve unanticipated supply chain disruptions.  

“When DCMA accepts the product on behalf of the U.S. government, we are ensuring our service members receive a quality product worthy to be used in combat,” Miyano said. “It was a great privilege to observe how information about Japan’s industrial capabilities and capacities were gathered, and how discussions are led to mobilize industry for production during Dr. LaPlante’s visit.” 

Other DOD leaders who visited the DCMA site included Lisa Smith, deputy assistant secretary of defense for product support; Melissa Benkert, director for planning, programs, and analysis for USD A&S; and Masaki Fukazawa, commissioner of Japan’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency.