Japan has unveiled its first indigenous stealth fighter aircraft X-2 and is expected to make its maiden test flight in February.
The aircraft is equipped with reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities in a move to close a gap with its neighbours, China and Russia.
The Defense Ministry’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency displayed the prototype, which was developed by a consortium of domestic companies led by Mitsubishi Heavy, at the plant in the town of Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture, Japan Times reported Thursday.
"The aircraft is scheduled to fly in mid-February or later from Nagoya airport, which is adjacent to the factory, to the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base in Kakamigahara in neighboring Gifu Prefecture," the news daily reported.
Defence officials said the aircraft is designed to test the stealth technology that would possibly be combined with the next-generation fighter jet, replacing the fleet of F-2 fighters as early as 2028.
The aircraft has a 14-meter fuselage, 9-meter wingspan and comes with radar-resistant features. The 40 billion Yen (US $340 million) project to develop a stealth fighter began in 2009.
The fighter features stealth capabilities, with the use of carbon fiber absorbing radio waves and making it difficult for radar to detect the aircraft.
The agency plans to assess data obtained from the prototype and decide by fiscal 2018 whether to develop domestically or engage in joint international development of aircraft to replace the ASDF’s F-2 fighter.