By John T. Bennett - 12/20/11 03:15 PM EST
The Pentagon on Tuesday saluted Japan for selecting the U.S.-made F-35 as its new fighter jet, a move that provides a shot in the arm for the troubled program.
"We're pleased that Japan will purchase F-35 next-gen aircraft," Pentagon press secretary George Little tweeted Tuesday morning.
Japan joins more than 10 other American allies that have signaled an intention to buy the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jet.
Pentagon officials "are grateful for our strong ally's confidence in [the] U.S. industrial base," Little added.
The contract will cover 60 fighter jets and could be worth up to $8 billion.
The F35 selection marks an end to Tokyo's F-X fighter competition, which also included the F-35's older rival, the Boeing-made F/A-18. The Typhoon, an European fighter jet, also was in the race.