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From Secret Warplanes, pg. 99:
"The experience gained with the F-2 has given the Japanese aerospace industry the confidence to embark on an ambitious project to develop an indigenous FI-X next generation fighter to replace the F-15J.
This was expected to be around 44ft (13.4m) long and 30ft (9.1m) in wingspan, with a fuselage made from composites and incorporating radarabsorbent materials.
An ambitious avionics suite was planned, including a conformal radar and an electro-optical sensor, plus digital fly-by-light and digital engine-control systems. Development of a suitable ll,240 lb (5,100kg) class turbofan was started in the mid-1990s, and the first XF-7 engine was delivered for ground testing in June 1998.
Construction of prototype aircraft was due to start around 2000, but the programme has been stretched in timescale. Flight tests of the XF-7 engine have been delayed until 2007, and no date has been given for prototype construction."
- test of the future engine on the ground in 1998
- test flight of the engine in 2007
- a stealth demonstrator the ATD-X in 2011
a stealth, F-3 japanese fighter to replace the F-2 and F-15J in 2020?
NIHON KOKU JIEITAI - JASDF
Programme for next-generation fighter, to succeed F-15J early in the 21st century. Launched with FY95 allocation of ¥1 billion (US$10.2 million) to IHI to develop new 50 kN (11,240 lb st) class turbofan as power plant, to be test flown in TD-X technology demonstrator. Preliminary TRDI (Japan Defence Agency's Technology Research and Development Institute) design proposal for FI-X showed twin-engined configuration with canards, low aspect ratio tapered wings, twin fins and rudders and thrust-vectoring exhaust nozzles. Construction of up to four prototypes originally expected to begin in FY99 and to include co-cured composites, radar-absorbent materials and digital fly-by-light and engine control systems. Wing span and length provisionally 9.15 m (30 ft) and 13.40 m (44 ft) respectively. Avionics to include conformal radar and IR seeker. First XF-7 engine was delivered for static testing in June 1998, but FI-X programme has been stretched, and TD-X demonstrator not now expected to fly until 2007.
June 5 2007 --Bill Sweetman
The Mitsubishi 3000GT sports car was sold in the US as the Dodge Stealth, but now the company has moved up to the real thing.
Japan's Technical Research & Development Institute (TRDI) recently unveiled images of the Mitsubishi ATD-X stealth fighter in the form of a full-scale radar cross-section (RCS) model. One picture was released a few months ago by TRDI, but has now disappeared from their site. Other images can be found here. They include a presentation slide confirming that France has been supporting the Japanese stealth program: between September and November 2005, the model was tested in the French government's radar cross-section (RCS) range. Other features of the twin-engine jet include thrust vectoring with external paddles, an F-22-like external shape, fly-by-light controls and the testing of a smart-skin sensor.
In some ways the ATD-X project is comparable to BAE Systems' Replica stealth demonstration in the mid-1990s. It's not likely that the Japanese government will fund the development of an operational stealth fighter, but the domestic capability may be used to ease US concerns about exporting its own stealth aircraft to Japan. Further down the road, too, the same technology could be used in other systems such as cruise missiles or unmanned air vehicles.
Using the French range is logical. At Bruz, near Rennes, France's DGA defense agency's CELAR (center for military electronics) laboratory constructed the Solange indoor RCS range. A photo found here shows that Solange may be the biggest indoor RCS range in the world, capable of measuring a real fighter rather than a subscale mock-up. The same site also confirms that Solange was built with the help of a US company, absorber specialist Emerson & Cuming.