Japan announces plans for new stealth fighter

Japan has announced plans to build one of the world’s most sophisticated stealth jet fighters, likely a twin-engine aircraft designed to take over the country’s critical air defense role sometime in the next decade.

The Ministry of Defense this week told members of the Diet, the country’s parliament, that the new sixth-generation fighters would begin production in fiscal year 2031 and replace the country’s aging fleet of almost 100 F-2 jets, single-engine fourth-generation fighters modeled after American F-16s, according to Japan’s national broadcaster NHK News.
The country’s fiscal 2020 defense budget said more than $261 million (28 billion yen) had been set aside for the program, known as the F-X, including money to develop drones that could operate with the stealth jets, a technology also being developed in Australia and the US.
Other features touted by Japan’s Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Agency (ALTA) which could be expected to be featured in the new jet are:
— an ability to sync missile targeting between multiple aircraft, known as integrated fire control or network shooting;
— internal weapons bays, like those seen on American F-22 stealth jets;
— the use of thrust-vectoring nozzles, devices that use the engine’s thrust to turn more sharply.
The F-2, which first flew in 1995, along with F-15J jets, form the backbone of Tokyo’s air defense. Those defenses are seen as in need of an upgrade, especially as regional rival China is investing in new fighter jets, including stealth J-20s of which the planned Japanese jet could be a strong rival.



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