Japan lifted the veil off its first stealth fighter jet. The first prototype of the radar-evading stealth aircraft is expected to take to the skies as early as next month.
Japan has a completely ready prototype of a domestically developed fighter jet, which the country affirms, possess advanced configuration for avoiding radar detection. The Ministry of Defense confirmed that the stealth fighter could fly on its maiden test flight as soon as next month. If all goes as per schedule, Japan hopes the test should accelerate the country’s plans to domestically develop entire fleets of such stealth fighters.
The stealth fighter jet, which the country has christened as X-2, has been manufactured by Japan’s biggest military contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. Appearance wise, Japan’s military jet looks quite smaller than a standard jet fighter. Measuring just 14 meters (46-feet) in length, the jet has been manufactured at the cost of ¥40 billion ($340 million), reported Military. Painted red and white, the X-2 doesn’t even look menacing.
Interestingly, Japan may not be building the stealth jet for its immediate inclusion in the country’s military, reported The Wall Street Journal. Instead, the country might be openly indicating that it is ready and capable of jointly developing a worthy stealth jet through an international partnership. Needless to say, joint ventures have a larger budget and given the availability of a larger talent pool, better technology and varied expertise, the results are usually better than when the project is worked on by just a single party.
Apart from the non-threatening paint job, analysts point out that the jet has been fitted with woefully underpowered engines. The jet, which is still to be fitted with any ammunition, is a very early prototype, point out experts, who add that the country is still quite a few years away from developing a formidable warplane, one that would match those from China and Russia.
— Chris Cooper (@ChrisTokyo) December 3, 2015
Interestingly, regional military experts point out that Japan’s neighbors, notably China and Russia, have long perfected such stealth fighters, which were equipped with such technology for more than five years. Moreover, the need to rapidly develop a capable fighter jet was becoming imperative owing to the developments in the region.
China has been confidently building large artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea. Notwithstanding regional as well as international pressure, China remains adamant and has in fact accelerate the dredging activities, which has resulted in huge artificial islands being born in the middle of disputed waters. Experts point out that China intends to deploy a permanent military base on the islands. The country even redeployed an oil pumping station within the same region, which angered Vietnam.
If China remains a concern, North Korea claiming to have developed a Hydrogen bomb and testing nuclear devices, is another headache that Japan has to manage. Additionally, it has been Japan’s own policy of pacifism, which included restrictions on weapons development and exports, which has kept the country’s top military contractors from making alliance with some of the world’s leading weapons makers.
Japan’s homegrown stealth jet almost ready for testing https://t.co/NZQQp5woEA
— David Pugliese (@davidpugliese) January 15, 2016
Realizing Japan’s sluggish pace, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe significantly eased restrictions on the country’s military developments as well as eased up on the crippling ban on exports in 2014. He has been trying to bolster its limited weapons-building capabilities in the hopes of boosting the competitiveness of Japan’s arms industry.
Besides developing a stealth fighter, Japan recently placed an order of 42 combat aircraft. The F-35s will replace the country’s severely aging F-4 jet fighters, reported Asia One. Additionally, Japan is considering retiring another fighter, the Mitsubishi-built F-2. The current fleet of military jets is no match to what China and Russia possess.
Interestingly, the X-2 may have been born out of desperation, after America flatly refused to sell its most advanced stealth fighter, the F-22, to Japan.
[Image via Video Screen Grab]