Japan announces plans for new stealth fighter as US approves sale of F-35 jets

Japan joined the exclusive stealth jet club with the successful test flight of its first radar-evading aircraft -- a prototype called the X-2.

Posted: Jul 10, 2020 3:01 PM
Updated: Jul 10, 2020 3:01 PM

Japan has announced plans to build one of the world's most sophisticated stealth jet fighters, likely a twin-engine aircraft designed to take over the country's critical air defense role sometime in the next decade.

The Ministry of Defense this week told members of the Diet, the country's parliament, that the new sixth-generation fighters would begin production in fiscal year 2031 and replace the country's aging fleet of almost 100 F-2 jets, single-engine fourth-generation fighters modeled after American F-16s, according to Japan's national broadcaster NHK News.

The country's fiscal 2020 defense budget said more than $261 million (28 billion yen) had been set aside for the program, known as the F-X, including money to develop drones that could operate with the stealth jets, a technology also being developed in Australia and the US.

Other features touted by Japan's Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Agency (ALTA) which could be expected to be featured in the new jet are:

-- an ability to sync missile targeting between multiple aircraft, known as integrated fire control or network shooting;

-- internal weapons bays, like those seen on American F-22 stealth jets;

-- the use of thrust-vectoring nozzles, devices that use the engine's thrust to turn more sharply.

The F-2, which first flew in 1995, along with F-15J jets, form the backbone of Tokyo's air defense. Those defenses are seen as in need of an upgrade, especially as regional rival China is investing in new fighter jets, including stealth J-20s of which the planned Japanese jet could be a strong rival.

Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono noted the pressure on the Japanese fighter fleet last month when he told reporters that Japan's Air Self-Defense Force scrambles fighter jets daily in response to Chinese military flights near Japanese territory.

Large F-35 purchase approved

News of Japan's fighter development comes as the US State Department approved the sale of more than 100 US F-35 fighter jets to Japan.

The sale would consist of 63 F-35A jets, which take off from runways, and 42 F-35B jets, which require a short takeoff roll and can landing vertically. Those would be used on Japanese helicopter destroyers, essentially small aircraft carriers it will upgrade to handle the F-35Bs.

"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region," the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a release announcing the approval of the sale.

"It is vital to US national interest to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability," it said. Cost of the deal is an estimated $23 billion, with US defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Pratt and Whitney noted as the prime beneficiaries.

With the new purchases, Japan plans to operate 147 of the F-35s. Its first squadron of 13 planes went operational last year at Misawa Air Base on the northern edge of the country's main island of Honshu.

One of those planes crashed into the Pacific during a nighttime training mission in April, an accident later blamed on its pilot losing spatial awareness.

The Pentagon touts the F-35, with the world's most advanced avionics, engines and weaponry, as the "the most affordable, lethal, supportable and survivable aircraft ever to be used."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112123

Reported Deaths: 3223
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7796173
DeSoto670178
Harrison484483
Jackson435081
Rankin383786
Madison373993
Lee344979
Forrest296377
Jones283782
Washington252197
Lafayette242642
Lauderdale2376131
Lamar217138
Bolivar198377
Oktibbeha195854
Neshoba1814111
Lowndes174962
Panola166337
Leflore160787
Sunflower157649
Warren152755
Monroe145972
Pontotoc143819
Pike137256
Lincoln135555
Copiah135036
Marshall134826
Scott123829
Coahoma123436
Grenada120038
Yazoo119333
Simpson118649
Union115225
Holmes113560
Leake113340
Tate113239
Itawamba110424
Pearl River108958
Adams104343
Prentiss102619
Wayne98721
Alcorn96012
George93917
Marion92942
Covington92525
Tippah85921
Newton84427
Chickasaw82625
Winston82221
Tallahatchie81825
Tishomingo79341
Hancock78127
Attala77626
Clarke72349
Clay67621
Jasper67417
Walthall63327
Calhoun61412
Noxubee59617
Smith58316
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52923
Tunica52217
Lawrence49914
Yalobusha49314
Perry48122
Carroll46312
Greene45518
Stone45014
Amite41713
Quitman4146
Humphreys41216
Jefferson Davis39811
Webster36613
Wilkinson33020
Kemper32015
Benton3154
Sharkey27814
Jefferson27010
Franklin2373
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22563372
Mobile14335314
Tuscaloosa10023133
Montgomery9759196
Madison904893
Shelby709960
Lee644966
Baldwin640569
Marshall428248
Calhoun412759
Etowah405749
Morgan396833
Houston364632
DeKalb319628
Elmore310752
St. Clair282142
Limestone270828
Walker268892
Talladega258435
Cullman227623
Lauderdale208740
Autauga201029
Jackson200915
Franklin199731
Colbert192228
Russell19053
Dallas185627
Blount184824
Chilton181731
Escambia171328
Coffee16669
Covington166029
Dale163451
Pike130512
Chambers130143
Tallapoosa128686
Clarke127117
Marion104729
Butler99840
Barbour9889
Marengo97221
Winston90413
Geneva8417
Pickens80517
Lawrence80031
Randolph79814
Bibb79114
Hale74529
Cherokee72214
Clay71912
Lowndes70127
Henry6376
Bullock63517
Monroe6319
Washington62212
Crenshaw59330
Perry5806
Wilcox55912
Conecuh55713
Fayette55312
Cleburne5287
Macon52820
Sumter46721
Lamar4565
Choctaw38712
Greene33916
Coosa1973
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 67°
Columbus
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 66°
Oxford
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 64°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather