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A foreign company will help Mitsubishi build the next Japanese fighter

The avionics mentioned for the study include conformal radar antennas, electronic maintenance measures and electronic countermeasures, as well as the infrared search and tracking system. Interestingly, “self-repairing flight control capability” is also mentioned. This implies a system for automatically detecting damage or combat damage and activating the other control surfaces, including possibly nozzles for vectoring the thrust of the aircraft to keep the aircraft under control.

Prior to today’s announcement, it was confirmed that Japan would follow one of three pathways to launch a new fighter jet: developing an entirely domestic aircraft, a joint venture with the help of foreign partners, or acquiring a foreign fighter jet. Another, more radical proposal envisioned an unmanned fighter as a replacement for the F-2 fleet. It is assumed that the proposal for an unmanned aerial vehicle fighter is considered a cost-saving measure and then dropped earlier this year, about which you can read more in the past Military zone piece.

The choice of the second option reflects a pragmatic approach, which we hope will provide technological support and expertise from a partner with experience in this field, while supporting the domestic defense industry. The last point may be of particular importance for the aviation construction of the MHI. The same day, the company announced it was shutting down its SpaceJet commercial jet as a result of uncertainty in the sector stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. More generally, Japan will seek to provide significant gains from technology transfer to help stimulate local industry, and this is likely to play a key role in choosing a partner.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, a decision on the foreign partner for the combat project will be made before the end of this year. Possible candidates include Lockheed Martin in the United States and BAE Systems in the United Kingdom, which is currently building Typhoon multi-role fighters for export as part of the multinational Eurofighter consortium. Other US companies that have previously expressed interest in joining the project include Boeing and Northrop Grumman.

Reports in the Japanese media show that sharing stealth technology will be an important requirement of the foreign partner, which can provide an advantage for Lockheed Martin. Not only does he have extensive experience in the production of radar-generating fighter jets, but he also has established relationships providing the F-35 for Japan and working with the MHI for their production. Lockheed Martin and MHI partnered at the FACO final assembly and exit facility for the JASDF F-35A variant in Nagoya, Japan.

It is also noteworthy that Lockheed Martin̵

7;s F-22 Raptor was once Japan’s first choice as a future fighter, but an export ban issued by the US Congress prevented its acquisition by even one of America’s closest allies. After Raptor Boulevard was closed, Japan also requested details from Lockheed Martin for a potential F-22 / F-35 hybrid. Although Japanese officials seem to have ruled out this design earlier this year and focused on a truly local product, such a proposal could re-emerge as a contender to meet the F-3 requirement.

Another factor that could play a role in choosing a partner is Japan’s thriving relationship with the United Kingdom, one of the main partners in the multinational Eurofighter industry, which includes British companies, including jet engine maker BAE Systems Rolls-Royce. . The United Kingdom is also working on the future Tempest fighter with contributions from Italy and Sweden. It has been discussed in the past how Japan is becoming another potential partner of Tempest, and Tokyo’s goal of putting a new fighter into service by 2035 may be well in line with the UK’s plans to offer Tempest as Typhoon’s successor during this period. .

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