The Japanese government has outlined the country’s next-generation fighter jet project, selecting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the main contractor to lead Japanese and U.S. companies, with American defense contractor Lockheed Martin providing technological support. The plan for the homegrown fighter jet, which will be jointly operated by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the American military, is set to be announced the Ministry of Defense imminently. The move comes as Japan hopes to strengthen its alliance with the U.S in the face of increased Chinese military activity in the Asian region.
In October, the Ministry of Defense signed a contract with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the main developer. The manufacturer is responsible for the design of the aircraft and systems integration. While engineering corporation IHI will develop the engine, auto and aerospace manufacturer Subaru will be in charge of the landing device, and Toshiba and IT group Fujitsu will produce its radar. Its mission system, which controls electronic warfare, will be developed by Mitsubishi Electric.
Japan plans to manufacture about 90 jets, which will succeed the aging F-2, with deployment slated for 2035. The cost of the project is expected to exceed 5 trillion yen ($48 billion). The initial planning costs will be included in the fiscal 2021 budget draft to be approved by the Japanese cabinet later this month. The Tokyo government stated in its medium-term defense capability development plan in 2018 that it would develop its next fighter aircraft mainly via its domestic defense industry.