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TOKYO — Japan’s government has selected the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter to bolster its aging air force and is likely to announce the multibillion-dollar deal by the end of the week, news reports said Tuesday.

The announcement is expected after a committee meeting Friday, according to Kyodo News agency and the Yomiuri newspaper.

A spokesman for Lockheed Martin said it had not been informed of any decision, and pending the formal announcement, officials refused to comment on which plane is favored.

“We would like to announce our decision as soon as possible,” Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa said in response to the reports. He said the government is in the “final stages” of reaching a conclusion.

Japan is expected to buy 40 to 50 jets for as much as $8 billion, though the value of the deal depends on what package Japan chooses. The Yomiuri report said Japan will budget for the first four aircraft in 2012, with deliveries starting in 2016.

From wire dispatches and staff reports