Japanese X-2 stealth fighter complete maiden flight

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) successfully completed the maiden flight of the first Japanese stealth fighter prototype designated X-2, on April 22.

The advanced technology demonstrator aircraft took off from Nagoya Airport and went through a series of trials to confirm basic maneuvers including climbing, descent and circling operations, and then landed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base.

After completing the maiden flight, the pilot, from MHI, described the flight experience as "extremely stable."

"Control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions," he said, "and after piloting the aircraft I’m 100% positive the X-2 is magnificent and will meet the Ministry of Defense’s requirements."

The X-2 is a prototype stealth aircraft - the first in Japan to feature technology impeding its detection by radar - engineered for extremely high maneuverability. The prototype integrates an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment all adaptable to future fighters.

As the coordinating company of the X-2 development project, MHI has been developing the aircraft’s airframe since 2009 with cooperation provided by 220 domestic companies and guidance from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA).

The ATD-X demonstrator will lead to the development of the F-3 stealth fighter whose first prototype would fly by 2025.

Production of the F-3 is slated for 2027, which will replace the present JASDF fleet of F-2 fighter, a Japanese specific license build Lockheed Martin F-16, and eventually the larger Boeing F-15J fleet.

With a length of 14.2 meters and wingspan of 9.1 meters, the ATD-X is powered by two indigenous IHI XF5-1 low bypass turbofans engines.

The ATD-X features a 3D thrust vectoring capability using 3 paddles on each engine nozzle. The F-3 will feature an axis-symmetric thrust vectoring like the Su-30/35 fighters.