Japan throttles up work on homegrown fighter jet - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Work on the ATD-X continues:
Nikkei Asian Review, 'Japan throttles up work on homegrown fighter jet', 21 Aug 2014 wrote:Image
The experimental ATD-X may spawn into a stealth fighter. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Defense)

TOKYO -- Japan will begin test flights next year to determine whether the country has the right stuff to build a fighter jet without relying on Western contractors.

The Ministry of Defense plans to seek around 40 billion yen ($384 million) in funding for the effort for the fiscal year starting next April.

The government will decide by fiscal 2018 whether to proceed with the development of a purely Japanese fighter, according to its latest medium-term defense program.

Production of the F-2, a fighter jointly by Japan and the U.S., ended in fiscal 2011. The last of the jets are expected to be retired from the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force around fiscal 2028.

To gauge the feasibility of creating an indigenous fighter, the ministry's Technical Research & Development Institute began work on the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) four years ago. Researchers have made progress in a number of areas, including lightweight airframe designs and missile-firing mechanisms.

The ATD-X is slated for its first flight using stand-in engines next January. Testing of stealth airframe designs is to begin in April. Prototyping of the actual engines -- a joint effort by IHI, Mitsubishi Heavy and other defense contractors -- is to start as soon as fiscal 2015 and take about five years. Heat-resistant ceramics, an area in which Japan excels, will be employed for the turbine blades.

Creating a fighter jet of its own will prove fiscally as well as technically demanding for Japan. Initial costs are estimated at 500 billion yen to 800 billion yen, but test flights and the development of ancillary equipment will likely add significantly to the total.

Even if Japan takes a pass on the end result, the defense ministry reckons that possessing its own fighter technology will work to the country's advantage in joining multinational arms development programs and negotiating to buy other countries' fighters.


I had commented previously on how not having an F-22A, would be bad because induces people who buy the F-35 to remain dependent on the US Air Force to be immediately present when facing non-backwater opponents (click embedded link).

Japan will be acquiring the F-35, but it was not able to get the F-22A.

Will the ATD-X solve this problem and become Japan's F-22A equivalent? The answer to that question is 'probably, yes'.

Global Aviation Report, 'Rollout of Japan’s new Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin stealth fighter jet prototype', 13 Jul 2014 wrote:Image
Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin prototype fifth generation fighter jet.

Since the U.S. Congress canx’d the sale of F-22 Raptor fighters to Japan, the Japanese decided to go out and make a 5th gen fighter of their own – the Mitsubishi ATD-X F-3 Shinshin (Shin Shin is an unofficial name). The aircraft will incorporate three-paddle (see video at time 20:59) 3-axis thrust-vectoring* (the F-22 has only 2-axis pitch vectoring), a fly-by-optics (not wire) flight control system, active phased array radar**, ECM, ESM, and a feature called ‘Self Repairing Flight Control Capability’ which will allow the aircraft to automatically detect failures or damage in its flight control surfaces, and using the remaining control surfaces, calibrate accordingly to retain controlled flight. [...]

* Japan is also developing an axis-symmetric thrust vectoring nozzle

** This radar is advertised as having features which are only shared by the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-81, now the most advanced U.S. active phased array radar, which will equip the Lockheed-Martin F-35.

Military Factory, 'Should the ATD-X program come to fruition, it will evolve into the Mitsubishi F-3 Fifth Generation Fighter for the Japanese military', 20 Jul 2014 wrote:Joining several other notable world air powers, Japan is in the process of developing an indigenous 5th Generation Fighter concept under the ATD-X "Shinshin" designation. The initiative is branded under the Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (MHI) label - who also produces the Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon locally - and headed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute ("TRDI"). The ATD-X is a concept demonstrator-only design at this time and not intended as a direct copy for a more formal serial production, finalized 5th Generation Fighter. However, any data collected during its testing and development would most certainly be used in a future 5th Gen fighter attempt. The ATD-X program, like other 5th Gen initiatives worldwide, is a costly endeavor for the island nation and always at the mercy of local politics. It has since evolved into an unveiled technology demonstrator and is scheduled for its first flight sometime in 2014-2015.

The ATD-X initiative was born from the rebuffed attempt by the Japanese to procure the advanced F-22 Raptor from the US government. The country has committed to purchasing 42 of the planned F-35A Lightning II models however and may add more to the order in time. This has not derailed the ATD-X program.

The preliminary Shinshin concept envisions a faceted airframe in the mold begun by the American Lockheed F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter. The design positions a powerful Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) scanning radar system under a nose cone assembly ahead of the cockpit in the usual way. The fuselage is well-blended into the wings while sharp angles are specially used throughout. Assuming a twin engine design, the ATD-X will sport twin rectangular intakes to either side of the cockpit. Wings will include main appendages and tailplanes as normal with outward-canted vertical tail fins at the rear. The engines will exhaust through specially-designed low-profile, low-signature exhaust ports (thrust vectoring is envisioned) under and between each rudder. Unlike 4th Generation Fighters relying on fly-by-wire control, the ATD-X is slated for the newer, speedier fly-by-optics control system. Also intended for the ATD-X demonstrator is an onboard self-repair facility which will be able to detect and, to the best of its ability, diagnose and repair failed/failing control systems. The undercarriage will be wholly retractable. In keeping with the low-signature, low-profile nature of 5th Gen Fighters, the Shinshin will be developed with an internal weapons bay, radar absorbing coatings for its skin and advanced technologies throughout.

In addition to the airframe, engines remain the other half of the 5th Generation Fighter challenge and this challenge has been handed to Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI) for possible development and production of new powerplant (IHI XF5-1 turbofans) with up to 20,000lbs thrust. It is assumed that, like the groundbreaking F-22, the ATD-X will feature "supercruise" support which allows for reaching supersonic flight without use of thirsty (and missile-guiding) afterburner.

A mockup of the ATD-X was unveiled in 2005 while a compact remote-controlled demonstrator mimicking the expected Shinshin design was tested in 2006. The project was authorized with proper funding in 2007. Should the ATD-X program yield an indigenous Japanese 5th Gen development, the upcoming production series aircraft will be given the designation of Mitsubishi F-3 in following the Mitsubishi F-2 (F-16) and the original Cold War-era Mitsubishi F-1.

The ATD-X features a running length of 46.5 feet, a wingspan of 30 feet and an overall height of 14.8 feet. Maximum take-off weight is estimated at 28,660lbs. Projected straight-line speeds could reach Mach 2.

In July of 2014 it was announced that the ATD-X technology demonstrator had completed its static testing phase during 2013. The vehicle was then rolled out in May of 2014 and will begin its formal evaluation to test its advanced design features - this will lead the program into 2016. Engines have been verified as 2 x IHI XF5-1 turbofan engines of 11,000lbs thrust each. The airframe is compared to the size of the Saab Gripen multirole fighter.

While the program began in 2007, Japan has since changed its World War 2-era policy and will allow the exportation of its defense produced which will alter the Japanese defense landscape in the near-future.


Mitsubishi ATD-X (Shinshin)
Technology Demonstrator / 5th Generation Fighter

Focus Model: Mitsubishi ATD-X (Shinshin)
Country of Origin: Japan
Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - Japan
Initial Year of Service: 2020
Production: 1

Crew: 1

Length: 46.59ft (14.2m)
Width: 29.86ft (9.10m)
Height: 14.76ft (4.50m)
Weight (Empty): 19,621lbs (8,900kg)
Weight (MTOW): 28,660lbs (13,000kg)

Powerplant: (Possible): 2 x IHI Corp XF5-1 turbofan engines developing 33,000lbs of thrust with afterburner.

Maximum Speed: 1,597mph (2,570kmh; 1,388kts)
Maximum Range: 466miles (750km)
Service Ceiling: 50,033ft (15,250m; 9.5miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 45,000 feet per minute (13,716m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite: Presumed internal 20mm cannon. Assumed internal weapons bays for delivering air-to-air and air-to-surface guided/homing munitions.

ATD-X - Program designation
"Shinshin" - Program nickname
F-3 - Proposed serial designation for production models

Operators: Japan

So, it should be interesting to see what happens.
Rei Murasame wrote:Will the ATD-X solve this problem and become Japan's F-22A equivalent? The answer to that question is 'probably, yes'.

I'm on record saying a bigger problem for the United States is that it is repeating Nazi Germany's error of having advanced weapons, but way too few of them to make a difference in an unrestricted warfare scenario--unless we want to use WMDs.

Personally, I don't see an F-22 there. I see an F/A-18 Hornet. There's been a lot of talk about retrofitting older fighters with stealthy skins. There's a lot of work to do there, but there are also potentially major benefits. For example, you could retrofit existing fighters. You have large body of knowledge on the airframe as it is, but with new stealth technology.

Big problems developing an F-22 are:

1.) Canopy. Making stealthy bubble canopies isn't easy.
2.) Engine Nozzles: Making stealthy engine nozzles isn't easy either.
3.) Thrust Vectoring: See #2. Not easy either, but it's understood conceptually.
4.) Supercruise: There are definitely more powerful engines available. What made the F-16 interesting in its time is that it was the only major production plane that could accelerate in a vertical climb. Supercruise is a similar concept, and requires quite a bit of thrust to achieve it.
So bigger, more powerful engines are needed.
5.) Internal Weapons Bay: A big issue with stealth is not having a bunch of hard points bristling with missiles and bombs. So that changes fuselage design.

There are a lot of problems associated with making an F-22, and the above are just some of them. What the Chinese are doing with their J-5 is basically a F-22 look alike that won't have all its features. What Japan must do is have sufficient numbers that can counter large numbers of Chinese J-5 fighters. So they need to get to stealth a lot faster, and in bigger numbers.

I think if they can build F/A-18 Hornets with stealth capability in similar numbers to a regular fleet of F/A-18s, they could be in a position to even take on the US Air Force. We're really screwing up with the weapons procurements over the last 20 years.

Of the above 5 big problems, 3 out of 5 are all related to the engine. If they can redesign an F/A-18 with an internal weapons bay and a stealth body and stealth canopy, they don't have to reinvent the entire plane.

Another reason to build on an F/A-18 airframe is that they are carrier capable. Japan is going to want to build aircraft carriers and F-22As are not carrier capable planes.
Will the ATD-X solve this problem and become Japan's F-22A equivalent? The answer to that question is 'probably, yes'.

I like blackjack21 don't see a F-22 here but in my opinion that's nothing to be ashamed of, the F-22 program was a failure for the USAF.

The F-35 was supposed to be the affordable F-16 'low' to the F-22 'high' performance fighter, this program also failed to deliver but look here perhaps the Japanese have managed to achieve such a aircraft! A truly affordable 'low' performance 5th generation fighter is what everyone is looking for and if Japan holds firm and pulls it off then it could have a very desirable product as the F-35 just prices itself out of the market or in most cases becomes the expansive 'high' fighter.

Problem is will Japan ever gain the will to export it and if it does then will it be sufficiently indigenous and independent in mind to avoid US attempts to destroy the project? I fear if the former does not occur than the latter certainly will as Japans technology base is heavily reliant on the United States and they wont support engines for example on a competitor (e.g. Gripen).
Last edited by Typhoon on 25 Aug 2014 20:15, edited 1 time in total.
The Japanese are clever, at least wrt industrial design.

They're developing their own fighters because they're sick of being fleeced by their Yank 'allies' with their latest iteration of outrageously expensive export shit. They put up with expensive American gear to keep Uncle Sam happy, but back then there were Soviets at the door and America at least they had the decency of selling quality gear.

Their decision of not putting up with it anymore is strategically sound. They can probably produce planes that are cheaper and less crippled and make a killing on exports.
I wish japan the best of luck in this endevour. Is there any news what kind of stealth will be incorporated by any chance? Absorbing paint, fully stealth integrated hull or both?
The whole problem in making a cheap 5th gen jet is the implemntation of stealth, which changes the geometry and the aerodynamics a bit of the jet. Not to mention what is it built with.
Park, 5th generione jets are by definition stealthy. Their main characteristics is 1) Stealth 2) Integration int CandC systems 3) Information sharing

This has nothing to do with japan per se, just in general there are several guidelines that 5th generation jets need to follow. As for stealth being useless its a lie, modern russian and may be Chinese systems can detect stealth, even Russian s-300 can easily detect stealth(Thats why nobody wants it to get exported to syria or iran), the problem is how far do they detect that stealth. For example americans run some tests and they concluded that 27-28km is the range when s-300 can detect and lock on stealth planes. So the operational range of the s-300 was shrunk to around 10% because it is dealing with a stealth plane, i dont see this as a bad outcome.
The real issue is not being able to make an aircraft. All countries in the world almost have the practical knowledge. ''Know- how'' is a thing of the past. Even Sierra Leone is able to produce its own jet if it is well- being enough, for instance.

The real issue is that if Japan going to produce that shit, then will it be really economic and useful? Why do you want to produce it at home while you can produce it at a much lower cost in abroad? Who is going to buy Japan's expensive shit?
Istanbuller wrote:The real issue is that if Japan going to produce that shit, then will it be really economic and useful? Why do you want to produce it at home while you can produce it at a much lower cost in abroad? Who is going to buy Japan's expensive shit?

The defense industry isn't typically outsourced because the whole fucking point is to be able to keep churning out materiel in the event of war, which isn't guaranteed if you've got your military production abroad.

As for who's gonna buy Japan's expensive shit... As long as they're not blatantly trying to rip their allies off like the Americans like to do, they're basically bound to hit a better quality/price ratio than the Yanks on them planes. Meaning they'll be rolling in purchase orders and hard currency when everything's said and done.

Of course the American military industrial complex may pressure other countries not to buy from Japan, but the Japanese would get mightily pissed off at that and I'm somehow not convinced pissing off Tokyo is on the Americans' agenda.
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