The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force Mitsubishi (McDonnell Douglas) F-15J/DJ Eagles are facing an update program that is aimed solely at them being able to throw more into the face of advancing Chinese combat pilots.
That is in short the analysis of the Tokyo plans with the spearhead of the Japanese airborne air-defence. Of the more than 220 built F-15J/DJ air supiority fighters the first 40 will see their air-to-air missile load doubled to 16 pieces, half of it short-range, the other half medium-/long-range.
Sweeping the skies
According to sources in Tokyo once airborne these F-15s should be able to stop or slow down a large-scale Chinese air attack, sweeping the skies clean enough of Chinese fighter jets and attack aircraft to last another day. Japan military sources – quoted also by Nikkei – are said to be worried by a more and more active Chinese air force and naval air arm.
Earlier this year the JASDF moved one of its F-15CJ/DJ squadrons from Tsuiki Airbase in the Fukuoka area to Naha Airbase on Okinawa. Although closer to China by at least 215 miles (400 km) it leaves a direct flight line to mainland Japan and Tokyo more open. Apparently Japan is more worried with the Chinese reaching Okinawa for a limited military operation than it is for a large scale long-distance attack further into Japanese airspace.
Naha Air Base now has about 40 F-15CJ/DJ combat jets on strength. They may be the first to carry 16 air-to-air missiles in the near future.
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.
US based aircraft leasing company Aerolease Aviation has signed a letter of intent to purchase ten Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation MRJ90 aircraft, a Mitsubishi press release said on Tuesday 16 February. A firm order is expected in the near future, with deliveries to start in 2018.
Aerolease Aviation is based in Miami, Florida, and has been in aircraft leasing and trading business for more than 30 years. A formal order would mark the first time the company orders brand new aircraft.
The order is a boost for the Japanese MRJ program. “This launch lessor order from Aerolease has a significant importance for the MRJ program,” said Hiromichi Morimoto, president of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation.
Thus far, 407 MRJ aircraft are on order and 20 will be added to its order book when the US order is agreed. The total of 427 MRJ aircraft include 233 firm orders with 170 options and 24 purchase rights. Mitsubishi Aircraft anticipates demand of about 5,000 aircraft in the regional jet market over the next twenty years.
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.
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 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.
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.
Development and testing of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) has been delayed by a year. That is the result of a complete reschedule of the program following the first flight on 11 November this year. The flight was succesful, but Mitsubishi states it has ‘recognized several issues’.
In order to tackle these issues and address the perspectives below, the company reviewed and revised its overall schedule. Delivery of the first MRJ to Japanese airline ANA is now scheduled for 2018 instead of 2017.
Mitsubishi claims it needs more time to complete a better-integrated aircraft, which includes testing in the US. Suppliers have been notified of the revised delivery schedule.
The news from Japan will be met with smiles by competitors like Bombardier – which recently saw its CS100 certified after earlier delays – and Embraer, which is due to present its new medium-range twin-engine E2 series in February.