Japan is planning to conduct test flight of its first indigenous stealth jet F-3 this summer, China’s PLA daily reported Tuesday.
F-3 will be a breakthrough for Japan in terms of stealth capabilities and high-powered engine tech, the report said.
Japan’s advanced technology demonstrator-experimental (ATD-X) program under which the advanced fifth-generation fighter has been designed has to deliver in four major quality indicators of stealth, supersonic cruise capability, maneuverability and integrated avionics systems.
F-3’s exterior is capable of evading radar detection, eliminate visible light and electronic signals, heat and noise reduction to minimize detectability.
F-3 has a 15-ton-level high-powered engine developed by Japan's IHI Corporation and the Technical Research and Development Institute of the country's Ministry of Defense. The engine will feature XF5-1 low-bypass turbofan technology and composite ceramic materials highly resistant to heat.
The jet has been designed to be light and multi-purpose, with diamond-shaped wings with no empennage. It has also borrowed advantageous designs from other American fighter jets, with an intake ramp similar to that of the X-32 and a Y-shaped tail that resembles the YF-23.
The F-3's avionics system integrates high-performance active phased array radar, electronic warfare systems and multi-function RF sensors, with fiber cables to enable high mobility control and improved radar technology to expand the detection area and distance.
F-3 still faces some practical problems such as compressors and burners for the high powered engine. The earlier engines in F-2 have malfunctioned during flights with strong vibrations, and researchers believe Japan’s engine technology is still not sufficiently mature, PLA Daily reported.
Additionally, Japan's fighter materials technology has reached a bottleneck. The US F-15, for instance, has a titanium proportion as high as 26.5%, but it is not practical for Japan to simply copy the Americans as the former is completely reliant on imports for such raw materials.