Japan Is Building a Next-Gen Stealth Fighter Jet: Here’s everything we know about the F-X, the country’s first new fighter in three decades. Japan has approved Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to develop a new indigenous fighter jet. The fighter will borrow American technology, possibly from the F-22 and F-35 fighter jets. The new fighter, known as the F-X, is Japan’s first new fighter in nearly 30 years.
Japan has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as the prime contractor for the country’s new fighter jet. The fighter, tentatively named F-X, will fly by 2028, with production scheduled for 2030.
The new fighter will replace the F-2, also built by Mitsubishi, and will incorporate American aerospace technology and know-how.
The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero” fighter dominated Allied air forces in early World War II. Mitsubishi built a number of iconic World War II aircraft, including the A6M “Zero” naval fighter, but Japan ceased production and production of combat aircraft after the war. The country, which has built US fighter jets under license for decades, has made no secret of its desire to restart its fighter jet development.
Japan’s newest fighter, the F-2, is a derivative of the F-16 Fighting Falcon developed by Lockheed Martin in the 1990s.
Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-15DJ and F-2 fighter jets. The news comes at a time when Japan is facing the problem of aging fighter jets. For decades, the country operated the F-15J fighter jets, an indigenously built version of the F-15 Eagle, the obsolete F-4J Phantom, and the F-2. Japan had planned to buy Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor, but the plan was thwarted by the imposition of an export ban on the high-tech fighter.
Japan has retired the F-4J, is upgrading and refurbishing half of the 200-strong F-15J fleet, and is buying 147 F-35A and -B fighters. The new fighter will replace an original order for 98 F-2s in the 2030s, five of which were knocked out of repair during Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The F-X will likely replace a portion of the remaining F-15J fleet.