The Japan Defense Ministry-affiliated Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency (ATLA) on Wednesday set up a dedicated team to develop the successor to Japan’s retiring F-2 fighter jet. The team will be led by an Air Self-Defense Force major general working in the position of equipment development officer in charge of the country’s next-generation combat aircraft based on existing designs under the F-X future fighter program. It will consist of a total of about 30 ASDF officers, engineering officials and others. Japan also has rejected proposals by foreign aircraft manufacturers, including Lockheed Martin.
Aiming to start the deployment of its next-generation fighter in 2035, Japan plans to establish a framework for joint development and technical cooperation with the United States and Britain by the end of this year. Japan requires that the new fighter have a land-sea-air networking capability, an advanced stealth sensor, an electronic warfare capability and a missile-loading capacity equal to or greater than that of the cutting-edge F-35 stealth fighter, as well as allowing interoperability in joint missions with the U.S. military. About ¥11.1 billion is earmarked for the fighter’s development in the government’s fiscal 2020 budget.
ATLA unveiled an experimental fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator, dubbed X-2 “Shinshin” (formerly the ATD-X), intended to serve as the blueprint for the F-X fighter, in 2016. Japan’s MoD released the first “conceptual image” of the F-X fighter in January of this year.The MoD plans to procure up to 100 new fifth-generation air superiority fighters by the end of the 2030s. The aircraft will replace the Japan Air-Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF’s) Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft.