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Japan Launches F-X Competition: Japan's defense ministry has formally launched the F-X advanced fighter competition by issuing the request for proposal and inviting three industry teams to bid. FlightGlobal reports that Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II platforms are likely to be in the competition as well as possibly the Eurofighter Typhoon. The Japanese issued the solicitation to representatives of the US and British governments; the companies have yet to review it, according to FlightGlobal. The Japanese reportedly have expressed interest in a buy of roughly 40 aircraft, showing an early preference for the F-35 to replace the Japan Air Self Defense Force's elderly fleet of F-4EJ Phantoms after the United States government barred Japan from purchasing the F-22. As F-X progresses, the Japanese are simultaneously working on an indigenous stealth prototype, known as ATD-X or "Shinshin."