After Lockheed & Northrop in the US, Tokyo now wants to join the UK-led Tempest program


While tensions with China over the Senkaku Islands (or Diaoyu in Chinese) mount, Japan appears to have accelerated its sixth generation combat program in a different way – Britain.

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Almost a year after selecting Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to develop the $ 40 billion FX (which is slated to be baptized the F-3 by 2035, when it is expected to enter service), Japan did was also reported To be part of the UK-led Future Combat Air System (FCAS).

The UK-run FCAS called “The Tempest” includes Sweden and Italy and should not be confused with the German-French-Spanish FCAS, a separate project with the same name.

The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) currently uses the US 200 F-15Js and 97 F-2s, a Japanese fork of the F-16. It also procures 142 F-35A and F-35B lighting jets, but they, too, were designed primarily for attack rather than air superiority tasks.

However, with China’s rapid military development; his assertion of his territorial claims in the East and South China Seas; public threats to take Taiwan by force if it declares independence and; historical objections to Japan’s revanchist project, which China bore the brunt of the two world wars, Japan was clearly militarily disadvantaged.

Mitsubishi FX – Wikipedia

It faces almost 1,000 fighter-bombers of the Air Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAAF) and the Navy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLAN), consisting of the 4.5 generation J-11B, J-15, J-16, J-10B and J-10C. and the full stealth-enabled 5NS Generation J-20.

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Even the surface and underwater fleets of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) are in comparison with the sheer size of the PLAN in the shade. In addition, there are three hot spots in Far East Asia alone – the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Strait, and the South China Sea – all of which would attract Japan.

Japan’s next-gen fighter

In 2018, the Japanese government promised to develop its own sixth generation fighter aircraft based on its experience with the X-2 Shinshin technology demonstrator.

It was nice extensively researched Key technologies such as next-generation engines, composites for lighter airframes, gallium nitride (GaN) radars and network systems.

As the F-2 is nearing the end of its lifespan, Tokyo now wants a twin-engine aircraft that has full camouflage capability in addition to full camouflage capability; a powerful super cruise engine; a new generation of AESA radars that can also serve as a platform for microwave weapons to disorient missiles.

Battle of 6th Generation Fighters: Britain pumps more GBP into Tempest Jet to beat US.  NGAD & Europe's FCAS
Battle of 6th Generation Fighters: Britain pumps more GBP into Tempest Jet to defeat US NGAD and Europe’s FCAS

It would also command wingman drones; Have full network and sensor fusion capabilities to share data with multiple ground, air and space resources; AI-enabled flight control and fly-by-wire system to reduce pilot stress, and; Space for at least six internally stored air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles.

Last December, Lockheed Martin did was declared as the main technical support partner for the FX program, particularly in the development of an integrated radar and missile system, aircraft design for better maneuverability, and stealth / radar absorbent materials.

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MHI was also said in talks with Northrop Grumman and British Aerospace and Engineering (BAE) for possible assistance in developing sensor fusion data links from the former and electronic warfare technology from the latter.

Other Japanese industrial, electronics and manufacturing giants involved in the FX project include IHI Corporation, Toshiba, Fujitsu, Subaru and Mitsubishi Electric. IHI was Testing the XF9-1 low bypass Turbofan engines that use new high-strength lightweight components that represent a leap in metallurgical science and increase the engine’s tolerance to 1,800 degrees Celsius.

The future of Combat Air |  A national endeavor |  BAE systems |  International
The future of Combat Air | A national endeavor | BAE systems | International

With afterburners, it can produce 16.5 tons of thrust, still slightly less than the Pratt and Whitney F-119 on the F-22 Raptor. This is combined with thrust vector nozzles for better maneuverability – a technology that has been repeatedly tested on the Shinshin.

Meanwhile, Toshiba and Fujitsu will develop the GaN Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which will be fused with an infrared and electromagnetic sensor. Its landing gear is made by Subaru, which is currently building the wings and landing gear for the Boeing 777 commercial aircraft.

UK-Japan partnership

On September 15, at the Defense and Security Equipment Internationa (DSEI) arms fair in London, it was announced that Japan could be the next partner in the British-Swedish-Italian FCAS program, in which BAE, Saab and Leonardo are participating.

The UK-led Tempest program aims to deploy a core hunter and a range of new technologies by 2035.

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UK Program Director Air Commodore Johnny Moreton was quoted as saying, “We have been negotiating, talking and doing some pilot projects. Nothing too complex at the moment. We’re currently doing a joint engine viability study with Japan, and that’s pretty exciting.

“They have an FX program that has a very similar timeframe to ours, 2035. The threat is very similar to what we expect, and when it comes to an industrialized nation, they are clearly in the lead, as are they us.”

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Moreton added that the UK and Japan could expand the partnership beyond engine technologies to include electronic warfare and radar development.

However, Moreton emphasized the “freedom of change”, in which the program and the aircraft are designed in such a way that each participating country can adapt the aircraft to its needs.

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