13:47 GMT16 May 2021
Listen Live
    Military & Intelligence
    Get short URL

    Tokyo began conversations with US defense contractors this week to lay the groundwork for the development of a sixth-generation F-3 fighter jet.

    This week, Japan opened talks with US defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Boeing to discuss a sixth-generation fighter aircraft. The move comes as Tokyo seeks to repel the expansion of China’s influence as Beijing takes a more aggressive regional posture.

    Defense analysts speculate that the new aircraft would be based, in part, on Mitsubishi’s X-2 ATD-X stealth fighter prototype. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force is set for the first flight of the X-2 prototype within days.

    One defense contractor commented that Japan is only in the exploratory phase for its next-generation fighter jet. "There is no policy decision and no program of record for the next fighter, but there is some discussion that there will be a fighter at some point," the source said.

    In fact, it seems likely that the Tokyo government has plans to develop a new fighter jet. In recent years, Japan has lost air superiority as its US-built F-15J Eagle fighters have become partially obsolete following Beijing’s unveiling of its J-20 jet. Initially, reports were that Japan sought to replace the F-15Js with US F-22 Raptors, but US law prohibited the export. One Japanese official disclosed that the need to replace the F-15J "is a source of concern and frustration in Tokyo."

    Japan is thought to be developing the F-3, an operational variant of the X-2, to display air superiority, as neighboring China expands its regional and global presence.

    Japanese air superiority will not come soon, however, as the country looks to field the proposed F-3 in the 2030s, around the same time that the US Air Force and US Navy aim to field their F-x and F/A-XX jets.

    Defense experts speculate that Japan may leverage the F-3 effort to combine with the US in developing a sixth-generation fighter program, as Tokyo is reticent to spend $50 billion for an in-house fighter of their own. 


    Trump Wants US to ‘Renegotiate’ Relationship With NATO
    Clinton Condemns Trump, Cruz for Suggesting Crackdown on Muslims in US
    Trump Caution on Immigration Widely Shared Around World - Research Group
    Two Sides of the Same Coin: Are Clinton and Trump so Different?
    raptor, stealth aircraft, stealth, F-22, fighter jet, X-3, X-2, J-20, Japan's Defense Ministry, Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF), Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, China, Sea of Japan, Japan
    Community standardsDiscussion