JSW, 'Japan’s 5th GenFighter Demonstrator to Get FY12 Funding', Kyle Mizokami, 19 Aug 2011 wrote:
Mitsubishi Heavy Industry's ATD-X design for F-X competition
ATD-X, the fighter technology demonstrator that may or may not lead to a new class of fighters, will be funded in the Japanese government’s FY 2012 government budget. Here’s a translation of a Nikkan article, courtesy Twitter user _niten.
As part of the Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD-X or “Shinshin”) project that will help develop fighter planes twenty years from now, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) plans to commission Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to development the airframe to as soon as within this financial year. In addition, funds for spare parts and maintenance materials totally approximately JPY 9 billion (roughly USD 117 million) look to be included in the draft requests for the FY 2012 budget which come out at the end of September. This effort will evaluate the operational effectiveness of each technological component, and will help make the successor to the F2 fighter plane a domestic effort.
The ATD-X will not be deployed to units, but is a plane that will verify both the stealth ability to not be picked up on enemy radar, and the high kinetic performance which allows quick turns when traveling at low speed. No mission avionics or weapon systems such as missiles will be installed. Forecasts see a maiden flight in FY 2014, and flight tests in FY 2015-2016.
From 2009 the MoD had charged Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with developing the manufacturing design, and as this has been completed the move is now to construction of the airframe. (jp link)
Note that this is a separate procurement program than the F-X program. F-X is designed to replace the F-4EJ Phantom with a 4.5/5 generation fighter bomber, the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-18 Super Hornet, or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
The article describes the ATD-X as a successor to the F2 fighter. This is likely a reference to ATD-X following F2 on the aircraft assembly line. In terms of replacing active duty planes, ATD-X will replace the F-15J in the air superiority and interceptor role.
The more you know.