Development of ATD-X jet part of Tokyo’s effort to upgrade its defence capabilities; analysts warn it could spark claims of arms race in Asia
A prototype of Japan’s first domestically produced stealth fighter will get airborne before the end of the year, a significant development in Tokyo’s efforts to improve its defence capabilities.
Known as the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) fighter, the aircraft is being developed by the defence ministry’s research institute and a number of private companies, primarily Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told the Diet’s defence committee on April 10 that he had recently visited Mitsubishi Heavy’s plant at Komaki Minami. “There, I was briefed that the first flight will take place this year,” he said.
The single-seat, fifth-generation fighter – which has the unofficial name “Shinshin”, meaning “Spirit of God” – bears a resemblance to the Russian Sukhoi Su-27 fighter, with a twin tail configuration and raised pilot canopy.
The aircraft also has a 3-D thrust vectoring capability, a fly-by-optics flight control system and an advanced radar, as well as two turbofan engines that are each capable of producing 5,000kg of thrust on afterburner.
“This is a natural reaction to the rise of China, its massive investment in military equipment and its belligerent attitude towards Japan and other nations in the region,” Go Ito, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Meiji University, said.
“But I do anticipate that China and North Korea might claim that Japan is starting a new arms race in the region by developing this sort of aircraft, although it must be remembered that Beijing is deploying the Chengdu J-20,” he added.
Full article: Japan’s indigenous stealth fighter to fly this year amid arms race worries (South China Morning Post)