Here are some great new images of Japan’s entry in the Great Asian Stealth Fighter Race; the ATD-X air superiority fighter.
These shots show a mock-up of Mitsubishi’s design for the jet which it hopes to have flying by 2014–15.
Japan wants to field its own stealth fighter in light of China’s rapid military modernization which seems to be aimed at expanding its influence throughout the western Pacific Ocean. The island nation wanted to buy Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor to serve as its air superiority fighter but the Pentagon refused to allow it. This drove Japan to seek a two pronged approach to modernizing its air force; it will buy a foreign-made multirole fighter and then develop its own stealthy air superiority jet — albeit with help from the U.S.
The ATD-X isn’t expected to be operational until the 2020s (if ever), in the meantime, Japan is looking at buying a multirole jet — either the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or the Eurofighter Typhoon — to replace its ancient fleet of F-4J Phantoms and some of its newer F-15 Eagles.
Click through the jump for more photos.
Hat tip to Trimble for spotting these pictures.