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Japan to Develop Next-Gen Stealth Fighter Jet with Mitsubishi

The nation is building its own next-generation fighter jet.

Japan to Develop Next-Gen Stealth Fighter Jet with Mitsubishi
Japan stealth fighter Stars and Stripes/Twitter

Japan will see an upgrade to its fighter jet fleet in the coming years, as it's building its very own next-generation stealth fighter jet.

The Asian nation has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the lead contractor to develop its next stealth fighter, which is due to launch in the 2030s, per the Associated Press.

Currently known as the F-X, the upcoming stealth fighter is part of Japan's plan to have a stronger and larger military to be prepared for any potential threats from neighboring China and North Korea. 

Japan has been building up its military defense, as it also recently unveiled its latest lithium-ion powered attack submarine.

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The F-X will be replacing the F-2s that were co-developed between Japan and the U.S., which are set to stop operation in 2035.

The next-gen stealth fighters will be joining the country's Air Self-Defense Force, which has a fleet of around 290 fighters.

The F-X will supposedly have a stealthy design, it's in the name after all, and offer interoperability with U.S. fighter jets, per Popular Mechanics. One of its top priorities will be air-to-air combat, as Japan's F-35s already cover air-to-air and air-to-ground multi roles.

Another top priority will be long-range, as Japan may need to defend the country further above the East China Sea, and it will have the capability to direct up to three combat drones. 

It'll also most likely be equipped with a Joint New Air to Air Missile, a UK/Japan project, but may not carry a gun. Japan doesn't domestically produce aircraft-mounted guns, although we'll have to wait and see whether Mitsubishi decides to commission an outside contractor for that role. 

Mitsubishi is a top Japanese defense contractor as well as a supplier for U.S. aircraft maker Boeing and has been in the aviation game for decades.

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