Japan plans to test fly home-made ATD-X stealth fighter prototype in early 2016

World Aviation Defense & Security News - Japan
Japan plans to test fly home-made ATD-X stealth fighter prototype in early 2016
Japan is closing in on becoming the fourth nation to test fly its own stealth jet, announced today the Japan Times. The aircraft is scheduled to make its maiden flight within the first three months of next year, Hirofumi Doi, a program manager at the Defense Ministry, said in an interview in Tokyo. The plane, called Advanced Technology Demonstrator X, will then be handed over to the Self-Defense Forces, which will start conducting its own tests, he said.
Japan plans to test fly home made ATD X stealth fighter prototype in early 2016 640 001MHI's ATD-X prototype could fly for the first time during the first quarter of 2016
The Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.-made plane builds on Abe’s military ambitions after he succeeded in pushing through U.S.-endorsed legislation to allow Japanese forces to fight in overseas conflicts, despite concerns voiced abroad and at home. Japanese militarism is a particularly sensitive topic for China and South Korea because of the aggression they endured before and during World War II.

The 14-meter-long jet, equipped with engines from IHI Corp., will cost $325 million to develop, Doi said. The ATD-X could become the basis for a new fighter jet to replace the nation’s F-2, said Takahiro Yoshida, a director in the ministry.

Should Japan decide to make a fighter jet version, its engines would be about three times the strength of the stealth jet’s, and the plane would have enough internal space for missiles, Doi said.

It’s not certain that Japan will go ahead with the project.

IHI is fully supporting flight tests of the latest jet, said Yuki Takahashi, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman. Hideo Ikuno, a spokesman for Mitsubishi Heavy in Tokyo, declined comment on the jet’s development.

The U.S., Russia and China have all built and flown stealth planes, known as fifth-generation jets, which are harder to detect by radar. South Korea and Indonesia are also investing in the joint development of a next-generation fighter aircraft.

Back in Japan, the government will make a decision on a replacement for its F-2 fighter jets by the end of March 2019, Doi said.

We’re building this in preparation for the development of a new fighter jet,” Doi said. “Neighboring countries are developing stealth jets and so this research is to allow us to understand what technology is needed for such a project.”