Japan’s Ministry of Defence plans to advance with its F-X fighter jet with the United States, keeping interoperability between the two forces in mind.
It will start working on the project with the U.S. from the next fiscal year “to ensure interoperability between Japan and the U.S.” It has listed “Joint network operation with U.S. forces” under “Capabilities required of future fight aircraft.”
The ministry has also chosen American firm Lockheed Martin as the candidate for an integration support company.
F-X project will likely also have the U.K. on board with Japan discussing possibilities. Collaborations with the U.S. and U.K. will include engine and avionics, “in order to reduce development cost and technical risk.”
The ministry said, “The development of the F-X is an extraordinarily large program compared to the MOD’s previous aircraft development projects. In order to make this grand program a success, the MOD will develop the F-X by making maximum use of technological and human resources possessed by domestic companies and further strengthening collaboration between the government and companies, and between the companies, as well as considering the direction of international collaboration as mentioned above.”
Three months ago, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) was selected to build the F-X jet. Japan wants to buy 100 of these aircraft to replace the country’s long-serving F-2s, set to retire in 2035. The project is expected to cost $40 billion.
Japan had earmarked $256.5 million in fiscal year 2020 for "F-X related research projects" and "conceptual design in Japan-led development.” It is set to rival U.S. F-22 jets both in size and performance.
The ministry wants the new jet have fifth-generation aircraft features such as the ability to coordinate with drones during combat, high speed computers, besides having stealth features (improved fuselage shape, interior missile bay).