The aircraft formerly known as ATD-X, the X-2 Shinshin, first flew in Japan on Friday 22 April. The aircraft, a stealth technology demonstrator built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), took off from Nagoya Airport and went through a series of trials to confirm basic maneuvers including climbing, descent and circling operations. It then landed at nearby Gifu Air Base.
After completing the maiden flight, MHI described the flight experience as “extremely stable’. Control of the aircraft went exactly as in simulated training sessions, the compnay said. MHI also states its positive the X-2 will meet Japan’s Ministry of Defense’s requirements.”
The X-2 is a prototype stealth aircraft engineered for extremely high maneuverability. The prototype integrates an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment all adaptable to future fighters. The X-2 has been in development since 2009
The future for the aircraft and its technology is by no means clear, however. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will receive the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II in the not-so-far future, replacing ageing F-4 Phantoms. Also, the last military jet developed in Japan by Mitsubishi, the F-2, never proved very successful.
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.
Airheadsfly.com 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 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.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is buying three Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft from the United States. The order was announced by the Ministry of Defense in Tokyo.
“The KC-46A is the one that satisfied all the necessary requirements as new air-to-air refueling and transport equipment of the Air Self-Defense Force,” a statement reads.
The fact that Tokyo chooses the unproved KC-46 – which is still in preliminary testing in the US – over proven concepts like the Airbus A330 MRTT comes as no suprise. Airbus even dropped out of the race, because according to the European manufacturer, all perimeters were set on the KC-46. Japan already operates a small fleet of Boeing KC-767 tanker aircaft.
The Japanese order – to be put in the country’s 2016 budget – is the first export deal for the new Boeing tanker.
Lockheed Martin and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries signed a contract this week to integrate the Sniper targeting pod onto the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft. This initial contract includes a Sniper pod, spares and support equipment for integration. The F-2 is the eighth aircraft platform to be equipped with Sniper pod, joining the F-15, F-16, F-18, A-10, B-1, B-52 and Harrier.
“Sniper’s proven performance and low life cycle cost will provide necessary support to the JASDF mission,” said Marc Nazon, Sniper international program manager at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “Integrating Sniper on the F-2 also enables increased collaboration in US Air Force and JASDF joint combat operations.”
Lockheed Martin will work with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the prime aircraft manufacturer, to complete Sniper ATP integration on the F-2. Follow-on contracts are expected to include additional pods, spares, logistics and support equipment for the F-2 fleet.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has successfully repaired the first of 13 Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-2 fighter aircraft damaged by the earthquake and subsequent devastating tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March 2011. The aircraft were hit by massive floods while parked at their home base of Matsushima that day.
The repaired F-2B two seat aircraft flew again on 21 April from the Mitsubishi factory in Komaki in central Japan. Upon landing at Misawa airbase in Northern Japan, it was welcomed and applauded by 600 personnel. The aircraft was hit by massive floods while parked at Matsushima, homebase of 21 Hikotai (squadron). A total of 18 F-2s were hit, with 13 deemed repairable. Most aircraft ended up damaged by the salt water, but some were extensively damaged as they were thrown against buildings by the waves.
The loss of that many F-2s would have been quite a toll for the relatively small, 94-strong Japanese F-2 fleet. Tokyo therefore asked Lockheed Martin to assist in repairs. The US manufacturer was involved in the F-2’s development earlier. The Japanese fighter aircraft shares many similarities with Lockheed Martin’s F-16.
Meanwhile, Matsushima airbase is being reinforced with concrete walls to protect it for the sea. That work is expected to be finished later this year, after 21 Hikotai will return from Misawa airbase. The squadron was based there since that dramatic day in 2011.