New look at Japan’s stealthy ATD-X Shinshin

Japan on Thursday 28 January gave the world a new look at its new stealthy air superiority fighter jet, the ATD-X Shinshin. The demonstrator aircraft was presented near Nagoya to Japanese media. Images show an aircraft with obvious similarities to the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. It will be known as the F-3 when it enters service with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) in the future – if ever. already gave you a heads up of the new jet in December 2015. ATD-X is the result of a indigenous effort to build a demonstrator fighter aircraft similar to the F-22, the advanced fifth generation jet the US refused to sell abroad and that is now out of production. The design’s features include a long and flat fuselage, twin tails, all-moving horizontal tails, plus thrust vectoring engines – although the design of that feature appears rudimentary at best.


The new jet also a strikingly large canopy that covers a single seat cockpit. The design seems tp have left enough room for adding a second seat behind the first. Earlier images showed the jet with it transparant canopy covered or taped off.

First flight

First flight of the Shinshin is expected in February. A further development program should lead to a definitive design called the F-3. The F-3 follows the Mitsubishi F-2, a fighter jet that in turn was very similar to the Lockheed martin F-16. The F-2 was never regarded as a succesful design, however.

It begs the question if Japan will ever actually buy the new aircraft for its air force. Japan already has 42 F-35s on order, to be produced locally at recently opened assembly line. The first aircraft entered final assembly there late in 2015.

© 2016 editor Elmer van Hest