TOKYO—The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning is proving to be unexpectedly useful to Japan, particularly in gathering information, according to a former head of the Japanese air force. “F-35 capability is beyond our expectations,” the former chief, Gen. Shigeru Iwasaki, told a conference at the DSEI Japan exhibition here. “For example, the ballistic-missile defense function can be implemented,” he said through an interpreter. That function involves F-35s detecting ...

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