Nikkei Asian Review, 'Japan throttles up work on homegrown fighter jet', 21 Aug 2014 wrote:
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:
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
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)
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
So, it should be interesting to see what happens.