Japan Considering International Joint Development For Its New Fighter Jet

  • Our Bureau
  • 01:05 PM, March 23, 2016
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Japan Considering International Joint Development For Its New Fighter Jet
Japanese home-grown ATD-X stealth Fighter Prototype

Japan is in talks with western defense fighter jet manufacturers to build its next generation fighter jets to maintain air superiority over rival China.

Japan is holding talks with Boeing and Lockheed Martin even as it is readying its ATD-X experimental aircraft for its test flights in the coming days, Reuters reported Wednesday.

ATD-X developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Japanese MoD’s Technical Research Institute will also incorporated into the new fighter, dubbed as F-3, industry and government sources were quoted as saying by Reuters.

"They have begun exploratory engagement to look at our capabilities," said a source with a western defense contractor. "There is no policy decision and no program of record for the next fighter. There is only some discussion that, logically, there will be a fighter at some point."

Analysts estimate the cost of such a program at $40 billion or more, a price tag that could yet prove prohibitive.

Plans are likely to be firmed by end-2017 or early 2018, which would enable the F-3 program to secure funding in Japan's 2018-2022 five-year plan and be in service by around 2030, the sources added.

Japan's Defence Ministry said it was considering various options for future fighter jets "including independent development and international joint development" to replace its F-2 fighter fleet from about 2030.

It declined to comment on whether it had started discussions with western defense contractors.

Plans are likely to be firmed by end-2017 or early 2018, which would enable the F-3 program to secure funding in Japan's 2018-2022 five-year plan and be in service by around 2030, the sources added.

Upgrades to a large portion of over 150 aging Japan Air Self Defence Force F-15Js, to incorporate new engines and radars among other advanced capabilities, could proceed while research into the F-3 program continues, said the sources.

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