So, a few years ago...
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force had this plan to replace its then-aging F-4EJ (Phantom II) kai (modified) squadrons with new fighters. Since the mainstay F-15J interceptor force was substantial enough, and there remained the anti-shipping / anti-invasion-force requirement that the purely air combat F-15J's were unsuited for, the decision was made to (1) procure a new generation-four-plus aircraft with both air combat and strike capabilities, and (2) to mostly produce it here, albeit as a co-production agreement. Those choices resulted in the F-2 aircraft, which is a very fine improvement on the American F-16 Fighting Falcon design.
It also resulted in what was, then, the most expensive fighter aircraft in the world.
Production was capped at less than 100 aircraft. The production run is over; no more ever to be built. There simply wasn't enough money with the artificial limit on defense spending here (~1% GDP), all the other things that the Ground and Naval forces needed (and in many cases still need!) and the very expensive costs of manpower in our careerist all-volunteer Defense Force.
Set aside 18 of those shiny new F-2's in a training squadron and what was left barely re-equipped three squadrons. Not exactly fulfilling the "replace the F-4's" goal, that.
Oh, and fast forwarding to last year, so much for that training squadron; in the 2011 earthquake / tsunami, the airbase at Matsushima (the F-2 training base) got wiped. Every single aircraft there wrecked; at least a dozen total writeoffs.
In those intervening years, fighter/attack aircraft technology took another leap forward. Generation five fighters are a vast capacity leap upward. The only such in service now is the American F-22 Raptor, which is a marvelous interceptor, but is expensive to build, difficult and expensive to operate, has had some serious teething problems, isn't intended for most strike missions and... absolutely positively not now not ever for export to allied nations (why being a whole 'nother discussion). The alternative, and the one Japan (and the U.K. and several other U.S. allies) signed up for, is the just-entering-production F-35. It is generation five, with some advantages over the F-22 (electronics improvements) and some serious disadvantages (less... well, a lot of less) and because of its huge planned production run, less expensive.
"Ha ha", said the Princess, and she went to wash her socks.
So much for that less expensive part.
There's a new winner in the "most expensive" class.
We're stuck for 800 billion en (JPY; call that US$10 billion) for a planned total 42 aircraft buy.
Two squadrons and a couple spares.
Delivery schedule, repeatedly delayed, starts with a 4 plane purchase currently budgeted...
...yes, I said four...
...slated for a test program.
Not counting the recee birds (RF-4EJ's; being replaced with some retasked F-15J's with synthetic aperture radar pods), there are ~90 F-4EJ kai's in service.
We're going to be flying the F-4EJ kai's until the damn wings fall off.
caveat: Wikipedia links, above, are for reference only. See citations there for sourcing.
site admin note: Yes, I know The Weekly Item is usually Monday; I needed to wait a day this time. Frankly, I'm just glad to be doing a few of these again.