Saturday, January 22, 2011

Japanese Stealth Fighter Mitsubishi ATD-X

The Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin is a Japanese aircraft being developed by the Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) for research purposes.

ATD-X is an acronym which represents “Advanced Technology Demonstrator – X”. The aircraft’s Japanese name is ?? (shin-shin) which means “one’s mind”. The main contractor is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. This aircraft will be used as a technology demonstrator and research prototype to determine whether domestic advanced technologies for a fifth generation fighter aircraft are viable. The aircraft’s first flight is scheduled for 2014. The design of the aircraft reflects those of several American fourth and fifth generation fighters, most notably the F-22.

The aircraft also features 3D thrust vectoring with 3 paddles on each engine nozzle. The nozzles on the prototype appears to be uncovered and might have a slight adverse effect on the aircraft’s stealth characteristics. Japan is set to develop its own next-generation stealth fighter jets to reduce its dependence on foreign technology and counter similar moves by China and Russia.

Japan, which wants to replace its aging fighter fleet, has also made overtures to Washington on the possibility of purchasing the U.S. F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.

However, the U.S. Congress has repeatedly banned the sale of the plane to any foreign government, in an attempt to safeguard the country’s advanced technology.

Japan’s Defense Ministry now aims to test its own prototype stealth jet, advanced control system and radar-jamming device — within five years, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported, citing a budget plan submitted Friday by the ministry. A mock-up has already undergone preliminary ground tests in France, the report said. Friday’s decision by the ministry to push ahead with the multi billion-yen (multi million-dollar; multi million-euro) project means developers will start working toward flight tests, with production in about 10 years, it said. The reports also say that there was a possible involvement of US Lockheed Martin in the development of ATD-X.

Japan hopes that having its own domestic stealth fighter jet would mean it would not have to rely on foreign governments for key military technology, the report said. pHomegrown stealth capabilities would also likely help Japan enhance its radar systems to counter regional rivals China and Russia, which are thought to be developing their own stealth jets, the paper said. Japan’s air force has been searching for replacements for its aging fleet of F-4s. Options include three U.S.-made planes — the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F-18 and advanced F-15s — as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon.

But a purchase from Washington has been hindered by its export ban of F-22s, imposed in part over reluctance to share sensitive military technology with foreign governments.

Japanese navy computers’ recent leak of data from a joint U.S.-Japan AEGIS radar system has also spurred U.S. concerns over sharing information with Tokyo. Japan and the U.S. recently signed a military data protection pact that tightens controls on the handling of classified information from one another’s militaries.

The moves come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to bolster the country’s defense coordination with the U.S.Washington has about 50,000 troops based in Japan, its top ally in Asia, under a mutual security pact.
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