According to the latest news reports, the Defense Ministry in Japan has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the prime contractor for building its much-touted next-generation fighter jet.
“We will steadily proceed with the development of the next fighter (F-X) together with the company,” the ministry said in a brief press statement that was eventually posted on its website.
According to the local media sources, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi has stated that the country is planning to select an overseas partner by the end 2020. This overseas partner will help in refining the aircraft technology. Going by the local media reports, stealth is going to be a major feature in this aircraft.
Over the years, Japan has been very keen on reviving indigenous fighter jet capabilities. Thus, the selection of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as the prime contractor comes as no surprise. This is the sole company in Japan that has experience in this field.
According to a previous report by Reuters, the contract for the aircraft is worth up to $40 billion. The Japanese Defense Ministry is planning to seek more funding for the research and development of F-X research.
The Defense Ministry has requested $555.8 million for the main program. It has also requested for an additional sum of $113.6 million for R&D of fighter subsystems.
The funding is going to allow the country to continue its research on next-gen R&D technology. This will be subsequently assimilated into the fighter technology. Japan has been continuing its research on fighter jet technology for past decade or so. The research has continued despite Japan’s decision to end the production of Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jet and instead opt for Lockheed Martin F-35.
The ministry had previously said that it was planning to launch the basic design process for the F-X airframe and engine before the end of the current Japanese fiscal year. This would then be followed by the production of the first prototype. The prototype production is set to begin in 2024. Following this, the prototype will undergo flight tests in 2028.