Tokyo: Japan will choose the US-made F-35 stealth jet as its next-generation mainstay fighter, government sources said on Tuesday.

To replace the country's aging F-4 planes, Japan had been considering three models, also including the F/A-18 fighter from the United States and the European-designed Eurofigher.

The decision will be formally made by the Security Council of Japan, chaired by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the sources said.

According to the sources, the government is eying the eventual acquisition of about 40 new fighter jets, with procurement costs for the first four airplanes to be included in the draft budget for fiscal 2012 which starts in April.

While Japan intends to import the first four completed planes for the initial fiscal year, in succeeding years, it wants Japanese firms to take as much part in the production as possible, the sources said.

The Defence Ministry had been trying to make its selection based on criteria such as stealth and information-processing capabilities, level of participation of domestic firms and support systems after purchase of the fighter.

Manufacturers of the three fighter jets had submitted their proposals in September.