A semi-finished product of Japanese pride

A semi-finished product of Japanese pride
A semi-finished product of Japanese pride

Fifth generation fighter emerged from resentment against the United States

At the end of April, the Japanese X-2 fighter, created using Stealth technologies, took off for the first time. An ordinary event by the standards of modern military aviation, nevertheless, it became a milestone in the development of aircraft construction and the country's air force. Japan has joined the elite club of fifth generation fighter countries.

The Japanese X-2 is in fact, according to some analysts, "a response to the American F-35, the Russian T-50, and the Chinese J-20 and J-31." The last statement is debatable. Even a cursory glance at the X-2 suggests that its design is closer to the classic F-22 Raptor than to the multipurpose "flying computer" F-35.

The X-2 was the product of three phenomena. The first is the resentment of the Land of the Rising Sun, the second is its ambitions, and the third is the changing military-political situation in the Far East. The offense was the US refusal to sell the F-22 to Japan. However, there was no discrimination in comparison with others: the Raptor is not exported at all. Having raised the X-2 into the air, Japan proved that it is capable of creating a fifth generation fighter itself.

As for ambition, according to Jeffrey Hornung of the Ryochi Sasakawa Peace Foundation, "Tokyo is trying to make it clear to the world powers that the Japanese military industry must be taken seriously." It is also worth noting that, despite the external similarity of the X-2 with the F-22 and T-50, in terms of its weight characteristics it is closer to the F-16 and MiG-29. The configuration of the nozzles allows us to conclude that the X-2 has a function of a controlled thrust vector, which increases its maneuverability. This feature will allow him to more effectively resist Chinese fighters.

Representatives of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries emphasize that the X-2 is only a prototype with "a glider, engines and other modern systems and equipment that can be used in future fighters." The combat variant will receive the designation F-3 and will probably not enter service until 2030. But in any case, we can already say that the aviation industry of the Land of the Rising Sun has risen to a new level. Japan is trying to catch up with both Russia and the United States. And from a military-political point of view, the fighter clearly looks like a signal for China. According to Hornung, in the confrontation between Tokyo and Beijing around the islands in the South China Sea, the creation of the X-2 fighter should make it clear to the Celestial Empire that Japan does not intend to retreat.

A semi-finished product of Japanese pride

According to the Christian Science Monitor, in 2015, Japan's Self-Defense Forces had to raise their fighters 571 times to intercept Chinese planes entering the country's airspace. Compared to 2014, the number of such incidents increased by 23 percent. Apparently, Japan no longer considers its current fighter force, consisting of 190 obsolete F-15Js, to be adequate protection against Chinese air invasion.

The main burden on the project will fall on three companies. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will handle final assembly and quality control. The IHI Corporation will be responsible for the production of 17 types of parts and weapons. Mitsubishi Electric Corporation will create radars. The total amount of the contract is 87.7 billion yen (about $ 914 million).

By the way, the Americans invited these companies to refine their F-35, with which they had many problems - in particular, with navigation equipment and software. Given the authority and weight of these Japanese corporations on the world aircraft market, it can be assumed that the Japanese will eventually find something to equip their X-2 with, and participation in the American project will play into their hands.

According to Russian developers, it is premature to talk about a 5th generation Japanese fighter: constructing a prototype is half the battle; a full-fledged aircraft requires missiles, radars, engines, and aviation materials.

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