Roll-out of the Mitsubishi Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD-X). The photo has been altered by the TRDI prior to its official release (Image © Japan MoD/TRDI)

Japanese stealthy pre-fighter to fly soon

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is to fly the prelude to Japan’s new stealthy fighter jet within the next 60 days, military sources in Tokyo confirmed.

The Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD-X) designed by Japan’s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) that bears the number 51-0001 is planned for its maiden flight in February 2016. The engineers and technicians of Mitsubishi hope to start taxi tests in the last week of January. Implementation of the engine and flight control system first need to be fully done.


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Gifu Airbase

According to the TRDI, a government facility operating directly under the Ministry of Defense, taxi trials will be done at Mitsubishi’s factory at Nagoya Airport. After all ground tests are finished, the plane is to be transported by truck to Gifu Airbase just north of Nagoya to prepare it for its first flight from that field.

Gifu is home to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Air Development and Test Command, with the Air Development and Test Wing (Hiko Kaihatsu Jikken Dan) flying everything from the aging Kawasaki C-1 and the new Kawasaki C-2, to McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ and F-15J/DJ plus Japan’s indigenous Kawasaki T-4, Fuji T-7 and – of course – the Mitsubishi F-2.

The JASDF test unit, Hiko Kaihatsu Jikken Dan, flies this F-4EJ. Seen here at Gifu Airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The JASDF test unit, Hiko Kaihatsu Jikken Dan, flies this F-4EJ. Seen here at Gifu Airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Shinshin

The Mitsubishi ATD-X – nicknamed Shinshin – is seen as the first step towards a successor of that F-2. It’ll have to prove Japan’s own capabilities to make aircraft less visible for radar. On the photo released by Japan’s MoD/TRDI the Shinshin looks like a bigger version of the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 and Yakovlev Yak-130. The demonstrator seems to be a two-seater, while the F-3 fighter aircraft that it will lead to is said to be a single-seater only.

A Japanese F-2B lands at Tsuiki airbase. (Image © Robert van Zon)
A Japanese F-2B lands at Tsuiki airbase. The ATD-X will lead to its retirement (Image © Robert van Zon)

Mitsubishi F-3 multi-role fighter

Japan started developing the ATD-X in 2009. In 10 to 12 years from now the Mitsubishi F-3 multi-role fighter is expected to equip the first fighter unit of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. We believe it will be one of the three F-2 squadrons of JASDF’s 3 Wing (3 Kokudan) at Misawa that will field the F-3 first. Apart from the F-3, Japan is also buying the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II for its JASDF; six of those are included in the FY2016 budget.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): Roll-out of the Mitsubishi Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD-X). The photo has been altered by the TRDI prior to its official release (Image © Japan MoD/TRDI)