Nov 4, 2014
Japan Set to Launch First Homegrown Fighter Jet Since World War II to Counter China
The Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD – X), a stealth jet fighter, which has been in the making for four years, is expected to take to the skies for the first time in January next year.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is currently undertaking a final ground test of the prototype fighter also referred to as 'Shinshin', which it will deliver to Japan's Defence Ministry in April next year.
The government is expected to conduct further tests to verify the jet's capabilities before it decides on production of the aircrafts in 2018.
This is the first time that Japan will break away from joint production with the United States and make fighter jets domestically. Japan was reportedly forced into a joint development agreement by the US in 1987 in exchange of US-made engines for the F-2 fighter jets.
The Shinshin is touted to be the successor to the F-2 fighter jet.
However, the main reason for developing a homegrown jet goes beyond national pride, and is essentially focused on countering Chinese aggression.
China currently has about 670 fighter jets, while Japan lags behind at 260.