Japan Drops Plan to Develop Own Fighter

Faced with the high cost of developing a new fighter to replace its F-2 fighters, Japan has opted to instead look for a partnership with an American aerospace company, which could well spell the end of an ongoing cooperation with Britain. (Wikipedia photo)

Japan is moving to scrap plans to domestically develop a new advanced fighter jet due to staggering costs and anticipated engineering pitfalls.

The Defense Ministry initially had three possible alternatives for the fighter jet that would replace the F-2 fighter-attacker that will be gradually mothballed from around 2030.

But with China and Russia showing greater military assertiveness in the region, Defense Ministry officials face the key task of replacing the F-2 with a fighter with more advanced capabilities.

The ministry decided its options were to fully develop the next-generation fighter jet domestically, develop it jointly with other nations, or extend the life of the F-2 through various modifications.

It initially leaned toward domestic development as it was deemed to "be important in maintaining Japan's fighter jet technology," according to a high-ranking defense official.

There were expectations that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. would play a leading role in developing the fighter jet. This was before a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries ran into difficulties developing the Mitsubishi Regional Jet passenger aircraft for commercial production.

Finance Ministry officials eventually urged caution, citing the huge costs that domestic development would entail. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Asahi Shimbun website.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Japanese-language version of the same article says that “Japan has decided that it will seek foreign help in creating a successor for its F-2 fighter fleet and a request for information (RFI) will be sent out to U.S. aerospace companies this week,” according to the Alert 5 website.


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