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They should be very careful when they operate mil air crafts in another country. A small incident can turn into a huge diplomatic crisis with Japan at the time when North Korea is neck and neck with the US.
 

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Exclusive: Japan to buy at least 20 more F-35A stealth fighters - sources
FEBRUARY 21, 2018
Tim Kelly, Nobuhiro Kubo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to buy at least 20 additional F-35A stealth fighters over the next six years, some or all of which it may purchase directly from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) in the United States rather than assemble locally, three sources said.

“In view of budgets and production schedules a new acquisition of around 25 planes is appropriate,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the plan. The sources asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak to the media.

The sources said buying complete aircraft from the United States, at about $100 million each, will save Japan about $30 million per airframe.

The purchase will add to an earlier order for 42 of the fighters, most of which are being constructed at a “final assembly and check out” plant in Japan operated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (7011.T), the country’s leading defense contractor.

That plant is one of only two such factories outside the United States. The other, in Italy, is operated by Leonardo Spa (LDOF.MI).
As China fields ever more advanced aircraft, including stealth planes, and as North Korea pushes ahead with its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, adding F-35s will further increase Japan’s reliance on U.S. military technology to give it an edge over potential foes in East Asia.

Japanese military planners are also considering buying F-35Bs, the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) version of the aircraft. Those models can operate from small islands skirting the East China Sea or from ships such as the Izumo-class helicopter carriers.
“We have not yet made any plan and we are evaluating what fighter aircraft we need,” Itsunori Onodera said at a news briefing on Tuesday when asked whether Japan planned to buy more F-35s.

Onodera’s ministry will release two defense reviews by the end of the year that will outline Japan’s security goals and military procurement plans for the five years beginning in April 2019.

The first of the 42 F-35As ordered by Japan’s Air Self Defence Force (ASDF) are being deployed to Misawa Air Base in northern Japan. Japanese government officials and Lockheed Martin executives are set to attend a ceremony there on Saturday to mark the entry of the first Japanese F-35 into service.

The F-35 accounts for about a quarter of Lockheed Martin’s total revenue. The company is hiring 1,800 workers for its Fort Worth, Texas, factory to build a fleet that is expected to grow to more than 3,000 jets worldwide. Lockheed Martin is scheduled to nearly triple annual production to more than 160 jets by 2023.

The first Japanese F-35s will replace aging F-4 Phantom fighters that date back to 1960s. The next batch will allow Japan to retire some of the aging 200 F-15s flown by the ASDF that are the main interceptor workhorse of the nation’s air defenses.

Japan also wants to build its own stealth fighter, dubbed the F-3, although the high cost of military aircraft development means it will probably need to find foreign partners to share the expense.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-defence-f35-exclusive/exclusive-japan-to-buy-at-least-20-more-f-35a-stealth-fighters-sources-idUSKCN1G507W
 

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Japanese F-35 Lightning II Stealth Aircraft Reported Missing Over The Pacific Ocean
April 9, 2019 David Cenciotti Aviation Safety / Air Crashes 0 Comments

File photo of a Japanese AIr Self Defense Force F-35 (Image credit: Lockheed Martin).The aircraft has disappeared at around 19.27LT. The status of the aircraft and its pilot is unknown.
According to several Japanese media outlets, an F-35A Lightning II belonging to the Japan Air Self Defense Force is currently reported as missing during a mission over the Pacific Ocean.

The F-35 launched from Misawa Air Base, in Aomori Prefecture, in the norther part of the country. Misawa is the home of the 302 Hikotai (Squadron), the unit previously operating the F-4EJ “Kai”, that has officially moved to Misawa air base to operate the JASDF F-35A 5th generation aircraft after retiring its last Phatom on Mar. 26, 2019.

According to the JASDF, the aircraft had taken off from about 7 minutes, as part of a 4-ship formation, when it disappered on Apr. 9, at 7:27PM LT on the Pacific Ocean about 135 km east of Misawa.

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force search and rescue vessels have been dispatched to the area where the aircraft disappeared.

If confirmed, the Japanese loss would be the second involving the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The first one occurred on September 28, 2018 when a U.S. Marine F-35B Lightning II crashed near Beaufort, South Carolina. The pilot ejected safely. As a consequence of that mishap, almost all the F-35s were shortly grounded on Thursday, October 12, 2018 for safety inspections of their fuel flow systems.

Japan’s program of record is 147 aircraft says the official Lockheed Martin website. “In December 2018, the Japan Ministry of Defense announced its decision to increase its procurement of F-35s from 42 to 147. They stated the aircraft will be a mix of 105 F-35As and 42 F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off and Vertical Landing) aircraft.”

13 F-35A are currently based at Misawa AB, based on Japanese media reports.

We will update the story as new details emerge.

Japanese F-35 Lightning II Stealth Aircraft Reported Missing Over The Pacific Ocean
 

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Japanese F-35A Has Gone Missing Over The Pacific Ocean (Updated)
Japan's first operational F-35 squadron was stood up just days ago at Misawa Air Base, the same base the F-35 in question supposedly launched from.
By Tyler Rogoway
April 9, 2019


Details remain extremely limited at this time, but there are reports from Japanese media outlets stating that one of the Japan Air Self Defense Force's F-35As has gone missing during an evening training mission off Northern Japan. A search effort is supposedly now underway.

Reports state that the F-35 went missing at around 7:30pm local time on the 9th of April, 2019. The aircraft had taken off from Misawa Air Base and was around 85 miles east of that location, over the Pacific Ocean, when it disappeared from Japan's tracking systems.


That's what we have as of now and keep in mind that these are media reports, not official statements. So, these details could change dramatically in the coming hours.

Let's hope they do.

Japan just stood up its first operational F-35A squadron days ago at Misawa Air Base and is currently the largest foreign customer for the aircraft with an inventory of 147 of the jets planned. As it sits now, Japan's orders will include 42 F-35Bs for its Izumo class carriers. The rest will be F-35As.

For a number of reasons, the F-35A represents a huge capability boost for the JASDF.


JASDF


There has only been one in-flight loss of an F-35, that aircraft was an F-35B that crashed near MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina in September of last year.

We will update this piece as more details come available.
Update: 5:45am PDT—
Japan Times has confirmed that the jet went missing with the Defense Ministry, stating:
"The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that an Air Self-Defense Force F-35A fighter disappeared from radar over the Pacific Ocean.
The fighter jet vanished from radar east of Aomori Prefecture at 7:27 p.m., the ministry said, adding that it is still confirming the details."
Update: 6:30am PDT—
The F-35 was part of a four-ship flight that departed Misawa around the same time and were training in the area together. There is still no word as to the status of the pilot.
There are some vessels in the area that could be assisting in the search and rescue efforts:
@cencio4 @CombatAir @Aviation_Intel @Rotorfocus
3 Japanese Navy ships are in the scene
1 Coast Guard is going to the area also pic.twitter.com/7PM5LlVxOW
— Juanma Baiutti (@juanmab) April 9, 2019
Update: 8:00am PDT—
Nothing new to report aside from the fact that Japan has halted all F-35 flights for the time being, but here are some thoughts I just posted on Twitter that I think should be shared here as well:
"If one of Japan’s F-35s is sitting at the bottom of the Pacific, we are probably about to see one of the biggest underwater espionage and counter-espionage ops since the Cold War. If it was operating without its radar reflectors pinpointing where it went in may be an issue.
If it was data linked via MADL [the F-35's proprietary low-probability of intercept data-linl] with other F-35s, their data could help a lot in finding it. I have no clue how the black box works on this jet, anyone have info on if it pings? If it’s really deep that could be a vulnerability. Expect ASW [anti-submarine warfare] umbrella in crash area."
If it was data linked via MADL with other F-35s, their data could help a lot in finding it. I have no clue how the black box works on this jet, anyone have info on if it pings? If it’s really deep that could be a vulnerability. Expect ASW umbrella in crash area. 2/2
— Tyler Rogoway (@Aviation_Intel) April 9, 2019
Also, some have asked about the possibility of defection. We have zero info that would point to such a thing happening and it would be less plausible if the F-35 was wearing its radar deflectors. So, at this point, it is possible albeit highly improbable. Such an event would have huge geopolitical ramifications, as well, which may far outweigh the strategic benefit of being able to invasively examine an F-35.

Also, so much of the program's intellectual property was stolen by the Chinese that acquiring the real thing may not be as extensively valued as some would think. It would still be a huge intelligence and technological coup, but would it offset the negative repercussions that would come from it? The F-35's F135 engine would most likely be the most valuable component for Beijing. Russia would probably be a different case as they lag behind China in stealth technology and we have not heard that they pilfered the program's secrets via cyber espionage operations like China did. Also, the geopolitical situation between the U.S. and Russia is a bit different than the one between the U.S. and China.


 

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Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IB

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2019 - The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan of up to fifty-six (56) Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missiles for an estimated cost of $1.150 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Japan has requested to buy up to fifty-six (56) Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB missiles. Also included are missile canisters, U.S. Government and contractor representatives' technical assistance, engineering and logistical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $1.150 billion.

This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability.

The proposed sale will provide Japan with increased ballistic missile defense capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and U.S. personnel stationed there. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces.

The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.

The prime contractor for the SM-3 Block IB All Up Rounds will be Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Arizona. The prime contractor for the canisters will be BAE Systems, Minneapolis, Minnesota. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require annual trips to Japan involving U.S. Government and contractor representatives for technical reviews, support, and oversight for approximately five years.

There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.

This notice of a potential sale is required by law and does not mean the sale has been concluded.

All questions regarding this proposed Foreign Military Sale should be directed to the State Department's Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs, [email protected].




Japan – Standard Missile (SM)-3 Block IB | The Official Home of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency
 

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Massive search underway after Japanese F-35A goes missing over the Pacific
April 10, 2019

zoom
Illustration. Photo: JASDF

An international search is underway in the Pacific Ocean for a Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-35A fighter jet, which disappeared from radar at around 7:30pm local time on April 9.

The F-35A lost radar contact approximately 85 miles east of Misawa Air Base.

Media reports quoting Japanese military officials say parts of the stealth fighter have been located but the pilot is still missing.
“We have collected parts from the jet fighter’s tail fin so we believe it crashed,” Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya was quoted as saying.
The US Navy has confirmed that a P-8A maritime patrol aircraft and a guided-missile destroyer are assisting Japanese-led search and rescue efforts for the pilot. The navy added that another guided-missile destroyer, the USS Stethem (DDG 63), was headed for the search area.

AIS data suggests Japan Maritime Self Defense Force involved in the search and rescue effort include destroyers and research vessels. US Navy submarine USS Annapolis (SSN-760) is apparently also present in the area.

View image on Twitter
View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter


Manu Gó[email protected]


Summarizing at this moment #Japan #F35 SAR operation:
Japanese destroyer Hatakaze
Japanese destroyer Ikazuchi
SEISUI MARU Research/Survey Vessel
KAIMEI RESEARCH/SURVEY VESSEL
USS Annapolis (SSN-760)
HAKUHO MARU Research/Survey
Destroyer DD 154 JDS Amagiri
163
10:12 PM - Apr 9, 2019

The plane that went missing was reportedly the first F-35A assembled locally by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
This is the second F-35 crash since the jet started flying two decades ago, according to Reuters.
Japan has grounded the remaining fleet 12 F-35A in response to the crash on Tuesday.

Massive search underway after Japanese F-35A goes missing over the Pacific
 

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APRIL 10, 2019
Officials find debris from F-35 off Japan; pilot still missing
By
Nicholas Sakelaris



A formation of F-35As from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings fly over the Utah Test and Training Range during a combat power exercise on November 19, 2018. File Photo by U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee

April 10 (UPI) -- Japanese authorities said Wednesday they've found some wreckage from an F-35 stealth fighter jet that disappeared this week.
The plane was found in the Pacific Ocean hours after it went missing Tuesday, officials said. The Japanese pilot is still missing.

Authorities said part of the tail was found about 80 miles offshore from the Air Self-Defense Force's Misawa Air Base in Aomore.
The F-35 was flying in a formation with three other aircraft when it crashed about 85 miles off shore. The pilot had logged 3,200 hours of flight time, including 60 hours on the F-35. He has not yet been identified.

RELATED Japanese F-35 disappears over Pacific Ocean

Just before the crash, the pilot told ground controllers he would break away from the exercise. The U.S. Navy is assisting with the search with patrol aircraft and a missile destroyer.

The Japanese have suspended all F-35A flights at Misawa Air Base until further notice.

The crash raises questions about the safety of the most advanced fighter ever built. More than 300 F-35s have so far been delivered worldwide. Tuesday's is the second to crash -- after a U.S. Marine Corps jet crashed in South Carolina last September. That crash temporarily grounded the F-35.
RELATED Britain to deploy F-35Bs for first time, sending them to Cyprus air base

Peter Layton, a former Australian Air Force officer and analyst at Griffith Asia Institute, said the problem could lie with the Japanese assembly line.

"There are several hundred F-35s flying, suggesting a local not fleet-wide problem," Layton said. "The pilot appears to have thought he was in command and not in imminent danger."

The plane that crashed was an F-35A -- one of three variants offered by Lockheed Martin.

Officials find debris from F-35 off Japan; pilot still missing
 

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Japan Grounds Fleet of F-35As After Fighter Jet Disappears in Mid-Air - Reports
09.04.2019

Japan has 13 operational F-35s, with nearly 150 more on order. The planes are based with the 302nd Squadron at the Misawa Air Base in Aomori, northern Japan.

A Japan Air Self-Defence Force spokesman has confirmed to Sputnik that one of its F-35s has gone missing with one pilot said to be on board. "It disappeared from radars," the spokesman said, adding that a search for the plane is underway.

Earlier, Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported that an air force F-35A disappeared from radar screens during a routine training flight.
According to the military, ground control lost contact with the plane at around 7:27 pm on Tuesday, about 135 km northeast of Misawa city, during training. The plane is believed to have one pilot onboard.

F-35

CC0
SECRET F-35 Tech Will Be Compromised Should Turkey Buy S-400, US Media Claims

Over a dozen Maritime Self-Defence Force patrol aircraft and escort vessels are engaged in a search operation, NHK said, with the local Coast Guard also deploying two patrol vessels to help in the search.

Ten F-35As were delivered to the Misawa Air Base last last year.

All JASDF F-35As Grounded
Later Tuesday, Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya said that the air force would suspend flights of its remaining F-35As for the time being following the plane's disappearance, Kyodo has reported.

Tokyo ordered a total of 42 F-35As in late 2011, with the existing order updated to include 63 more F-35As and 42 F-35Bs by late 2018, with Japan becoming the second-largest buyer of Lockheed Martin's fifth generation stealth fighter.

Last September, the US military grounded its entire fleet of F-35s in the wake of a Marine Corps F-35 crash in South Carolina. That incident followed reports in late 2017 that a US F-35 deployed in Okinawa, Japan lost part of its fuselage in mid-air during a routine training mission.

A British Royal Air Force (RAF) Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II (R) and a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft perform a fly-past during the Farnborough Airshow, south west of London, on July 17, 2018

© AFP 2019 / BEN STANSALL
UK Set to Deploy F-35s Just 250 km Off Syria's Coast

The F-35 program is one of the most expensive defence projects in history, with a projected total cost of $1.5 trillion over its 55 year lifespan. In addition to cost (currently ranging from $89.2-$115.5 million apiece), the plane has been criticised for a plethora of glitches and design flaws which continue to plague it over four years after its introduction with the US military in 2015. Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan has reportedly described the plane as "f***ed up," with President Donald Trump repeatedly criticising it as an example of Pentagon waste on the campaign trail.

Last month, a US defence spending watchdog complained that the new F-35s for the US Navy were nowhere near operational status, emphasizing that the plane was "not ready to face current or future threats" and could put US military personnel's lives at risk.

Japan Grounds Fleet of F-35As After Fighter Jet Disappears in Mid-Air - Reports
 

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Japanese Military Found F-35 Debris, Pilot Still Missing - Reports
© AP Photo / Gemunu Amarasinghe
10.04.2019

An F-35A stealth fighter belonging to the Japan Air Self-Defence Force's (JASDF) fleet reportedly disappeared from radars on Tuesday, 135 kilometers (84 miles) east of the Misawa Air Base located in the country's northern Aomori prefecture.

The JASDF said Wednesday it has found what could be debris from the missing fighter jet, according to broadcaster NHK.

The Air Self Defense Force (ASDF) spokesman told Reuters Wednesday that the pilot of the aircraft, however, is still missing. "We recovered the wreckage and determined it was from the F-35", the spokesman told Reuters. The F-35 was less than a year old and was delivered to the ASDF in May last year, he added, cited by Reuters.

The incident took place during a training flight involving four F-35A fighters. One pilot was on board of the missing aircraft. The missing jet was reportedly the first F-35A assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries facility in Nagoya.

READ MORE: Polish Defence Minister Hopes to Speed Up Talks on Purchasing US F-35 Jets

Japanese Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya announced Tuesday that Tokyo would ground the JASDF's whole fleet of F-35A stealth fighters in the wake of the incident.

In December, Japan announced its plans to buy an additional 105 F-35 aircraft to supplement its originally planned force of 42 F-35 jets, with the additional order's cost estimated to exceed 1 trillion yen (nearly $8.9 billion). The anticipated purchase makes Japan the largest international buyer of F-35 aircraft.

Su-35 super maneuverable multirole fighter

CC BY-SA 2.0 / DMITRY TEREKHOV / IMG_8624
Moscow, Ankara to Benefit if Turkey Buys Russian Fighter Jets Instead of F-35 - Political Strategist

Last August, the nonprofit Project On Government Oversight (POGO) said that senior officials developing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the US armed forces — the most expensive military program of all time — are covering up dangerous flaws in the plane instead of fixing them. In particular, the Center for Defense Information at POGO obtained a document showing how F-35 officials were re-categorizing rather than fixing major design flaws to be able to claim they had completed the program’s development phase without having to pay overruns for badly needed fixes.

Moreover, a report on the F-35 last year from the US Government Accountability Office showed that the aircraft still had 111 Category One deficiencies that may cause death, severe injury, loss or major damage and that critically restricted the combat readiness capabilities of armed forces using the aircraft, POGO noted.

Japanese Military Found F-35 Debris, Pilot Still Missing - Reports
 

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F-35A crash: Japan’s defense minister addresses security concerns, procurement plans
By: Mike Yeo
7 hours ago
12 Apr 2019


A Japanese Coast Guard vessel and a U.S. military plane search for a Japanese fighter jet, in the waters off Aomori, northern Japan, on April 10, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)

A Japanese Coast Guard vessel and a U.S. military plane search for a Japanese fighter jet, in the waters off Aomori, northern Japan, on April 10, 2019. (Kyodo News via AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Japan has started combing the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean for the wreckage of its F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, two days after the aircraft crashedinto waters off northern Japan.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya, addressing the media on Friday morning Tokyo time, said the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has deployed a submarine rescue vessel to search the depths in the area where the F-35A crashed. The area is estimated to be about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) deep.

The pilot of the crashed F-35, who the Japan Air Self-Defense Force identified as 41-year-old Maj. Akinori Hosomi, is still missing. He was taking part in an air combat training mission with three other F-35s on Tuesday evening when the pilot and aircraft lost contact with other members of the flight and disappeared from radar approximately 85 miles (135 kilometers) east of Misawa Air Base in the northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu.

The Misawa-based aircraft disappeared soon after Hosomi — who had 3,200 flight hours under his belt that included 60 on the F-35A — told the other pilots taking part to end the training portion of the flight. No other communication was subsequently heard from him, and none of the other pilots saw the aircraft crash.

The disappearance of the aircraft triggered a large search operation by ships and aircraft belonging to the Japanese self-defense forces. According to the U.S. Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet, the destroyer Stethem and several P-8A Poseidon multimission aircraft also took part in the search. Some wreckage from the F-35 was subsequently sighted in the water, which confirmed the fate of the missing jet.

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force helicopter hovers around the sea area where a Japanese fighter jet is believed to have crashed. (Kyodo News via AP)

A Japan Air Self-Defense Force helicopter hovers around the sea area where a Japanese fighter jet is believed to have crashed. (Kyodo News via AP)

Iwaya also confirmed that there is no intention to revise Japan’s procurement of more F-35s pending the results of an investigation into the crash, which is the second-ever involving an F-35. An F-35B belonging to the U.S. Marine Corps had crashed in South Carolina in September 2018, the cause of which is still under investigation.

Japan plans to acquire a total of 147 F-35s, split into 105 F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing variants and 42 F-35Bs, which are conducting short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing operations.

The minister was asked about the possibility of China or Russia attempting to salvage the crashed F-35 from the seafloor given the highly classified nature of the technology onboard the stealth jet. He said no unusual activity had been observed at the crash site, although Japanese forces are continuing to monitor the situation.

F-35A crash: Japan’s defense minister addresses security concerns, procurement plans
 

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Meet the Mitsubishi F-3: Japan's 6th Generation Fighter Jet
Will it be a show stopper?
by Sebastien Roblin
April 13, 2019

Japan’s 2019 Mid-Term Defense review quietly revealed that after years of hesitation, Tokyo has decided to press ahead with development of its own domestically designed sixth-generation Mitsubishi F-3 air-superiority stealth fighter, rather than purchasing an additional foreign stealth design to supplement its growing fleet of F-35s.

In February 2019, the Japanese Ministry of Defense explicitly confirmed these intentions to Jane’s. Reportedly, F-3 performance requirements are set to be released in the 2020 budget, with development officially beginning in 2021 and a first flight targeted for 2030.
The new F-3 jets would then begin replacing Japan’s over one hundred home-built Mitsubishi F-2 single-engine fighters—heavily upgraded (and over-priced) F-16s—starting in the mid to late 2030s.

Later, a Japanese television feature in March 2018 revealed close-up footage of advanced high-thrust XF 9-1 turbofan engines and Active Electronically Scanned Array radars under development for the F-3 program. The special also revealed a projected program development cost of 5 trillion yen—equivalent to nearly $45 billion U.S. dollars. Cost per-plane could easily exceed earlier-cited figures of 20 billion yen ($179 million).

Tokyo’s Stealth-Fighter Odyssey


In 2016, Japan achieved a technological milestone when it flew its Advanced Technology Demonstrator, the X-2 Shinshin. In development since 2007, the ATD cost $350 million and featured innovative composite ceramic/silicon carbide skin and powerful vector-thrust turbofans for extreme maneuverability and super-cruising flight speeds. The Shinshin, described in greater detail in this article, supposedly had a radar cross-section the size of a ‘giant beetle.’

But the ATD was a tech-demonstrator, not a prototype for an actual fully-equipped fighter plane. When Tokyo initially balked at the estimated $40 billion, it froze further development and issued Requests For Information to foreign aviation firms.


The concept of a hybrid of the F-22 airframe with the F-35’s more advanced avionics seemed particularly attractive; but the bill for such a plane remained extremely high at an estimated $215 million per aircraft. Japan also courted Grumman, which decades earlier developed an XF-23 ‘Black Widow’ stealth fighter, and British BAe, which is currently developing the Tempest stealth fighter.

Either option would have meant committing to build more fifth-generation fighters instead of looking ahead to sixth-generation designs such as the Tempest and European FCAS.


Furthermore, advanced military aviation industries are very difficult to start up again after lengthy interruption as experienced engineers retire, factories close and technologies become outdated. If Japan didn’t start developing a stealth fighter now, it might become impossible to do so in the future, sinking Tokyo’s hopes of breaking its long-standing dependence on U.S.-based defense companies.

F-35 versus F-3


Many analysts predicted the F-3’s demise after Tokyo announced its intention to purchase 105 more F-35As and F-35B Lightning stealth jets in addition to the 42 already ordered. Tokyo may even procure some of the F-35s more quickly and cheaply from U.S. factories instead of producing them in Japan.

However, the F-35 is designed foremost as an air-to-air capable strike plane rather than air superiority fighter in the vein of the F-22 Raptor, which is no longer in production.


While the JASDF is building up its surface strike capability, defensive air patrols are by far its primary mission. In 2018, the JASDF dispatched fighters to intercept approaching Russian and Chinese military aircraft on average nearly three times per day. The PLA Air Force outnumbers Japan’s six-to-one, and its latest fighters like the J-11D and J-20 come close to matching Japan’s historical qualitative advantage.

Characteristics desirable in air defense fighter are long range/endurance for lengthy patrols; high speed to swiftly engage incoming aircraft before they release their weapons; and maneuverability to defeat opposing fighters in within-visual-range dogfights. In all of these old-school characteristics, Japan’s forty-year-old F-15J Eagle fighters out-perform the F-35.


Nonetheless, the F-35’s stealthy radar-cross section and powerful networked sensors make it more survivable and dangerous than an F-15 that can be detected from dozens of miles away. But Japan would still prefer a fighter that was both stealthy and a dedicated air-to-air combat machine.

When Jane’s asked a Japanese official what the top five priorities were for the F-3, he listed “capability for future air superiority” first.


The other qualities included capacity for upgrades, domestic technological ownership, and affordability. Japan may hope it could lower costs by exporting abroad, as Japan’s parliament legalized arms sales in 2014. However, Japan’s military hardware tends to be quite pricey and it has yet to have much export success. Stealth fighters, though, remain high in demand and difficult to acquire, with only the F-35 having been exported so far.

What will the F-3 look like?


All that’s certain is that the F-3 will be a twin-engine fighter capable of mounting six internal weapons. Beyond that, highly divergent concept sketches released by Japanese engineers indicate a final design is far from being selected.

However, there is more information available of various technologies Japanese engineers are eager to incorporate in the F-3.


In 2019, Japan began testing XF-9-1 low-bypass turbofans developed by Ishikawa Heavy Industries. These can reportedly generate 11-12 tons dry thrust, or 15-16.5 tons ‘wet’ (dumping fuel into the afterburners) and tolerate 1,800 degrees Celsius of heat. While the F-22’s two F119 turbofans generate 13 tons dry and 17.5 wet thrust, the XF-9 is a half-meter shorter and 30 centimeters slimmer than the F-119, leaving more room for internal weapons.

Separately, Japan’s defense ministry has been researching three-dimensional thrust-vectoring nozzles which redirect the engine’s thrust up to twenty degrees in any direction. If these can be implemented without compromising radar-cross section (difficult), this suggests Japan wants the F-3 to rank amongst the world’s most maneuverable modern jet fighters alongside the F-22 and Su-35, enhancing its ability to evade missiles and out maneuvers adversaries in within-visual range combat.

Each XF-9 can generate an extraordinary 180 kilowatts of electricity, which could be potentially be used to power directed-energy weapons such as lasers or especially radar-based microwave weapons that could fry circuitry in ballistic missiles streaking towards Japanese islands.

Japan has also studied turning the F-3’s airframe skin into a huge ‘conformal’ radar antenna using composite smart-skin sensors, and tested an electromagnetic ESM sensor that not only helps detect adversaries, but which can minimize or distort a stealth fighter’s own radio-frequency emissions for self-defense.

For cockpit instrumentation, Japanese scientists are considering ditching the traditional ‘Head’s Up Display in favor of an F-35 style Helmet Mounted Display system combined with a single large liquid-crystal display. An artificial-intelligence using man-machine interface is also being developed to optimize data flow to the situation and lighten pilot taskloads.

Japan has also been researching high-speed datalinks that could network sensors and exchange targeting data with friendly forces. These are specifically intended to counter numerically superior enemy adversaries as well as stealth aircraft like China’s J-20 stealth fighter or forthcoming H-20 stealth bomber.

Technologies tested in the X-2 that could reappear in the F-3 include EMP-resistant fiber-optic fly-by-wire avionics, and ‘self-repairing’ flight systems that detect and automatically compensate for damage to an aircraft’s control-surfaces.

Japanese defense ministry also clearly is inviting technology transfers and assistance from firms like Lockheed, Boeing or BAe to ease the project’s completion, despite the lead taken by domestic firms.

The above technologies check off many characteristics of conceptual sixth-generation fighter jets—(though optional-manning and drone-control have yet to be mentioned), and are individually pretty impressive. However, integrating them into a capable flying platform poses a much greater challenge, as does mass-producing them in a cost-efficient manner. The U.S. F-35, for example, suffered many delays and cost overruns due to difficulties integrating its many new technologies under concurrent development. Thus Japanese engineers have their work cut out for them as they seek to realize the fifteen-year development goal.


 

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APRIL 17, 2019
Japan's F-35As had 7 emergency landings before crash
By Danielle Haynes



The first F-35A frame constructed in Japan, pictured, crashed into the Pacific Ocean April 9. File Photo courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Defense

April 17 (UPI) -- In the months before Japan's first F-35A stealth fighter jets crashed in the Pacific Ocean, the country's air force made seven emergency landings of the aircraft, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said.

The Japanese air force began using its fleet of 13 F-35As in January, and on April 9, the first plane off Mitsubishi's assembly line crashed off northern Japan.

Speaking during a news conference Tuesday, Iwaya said the seven precautionary landings each happened before the end of February. Of those landings, seven involved aircraft assembled in Japan and one assembled in the United States. The plane that crashed made two of the emergency landings.

Iwaya said a pilot made one landing in response to a cooling system warning light and another pilot made a landing due to a navigation system problem.

"The technology on board the F-35 is highly classified," Iwaya said. "With cooperation from the U.S., we would like to take the initiative in thoroughly investigating the causes while gaining cooperation from the United States."

Though the Japanese coast guard and U.S. Forces Japan suspended their search for the missing pilot from the April 9 crash, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force search was underway.

"Though U.S. search and rescue efforts have ended, we will continue to coordinate with our Japanese partners on efforts to locate and recovery the missing aircraft," U.S. Air Force Col. John Hutcheson told Stars and Stripes.

Japan grounded its fleet of 13 F-35As in the wake of the crash.

Japan's F-35As had 7 emergency landings before crash
 

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U.S. offers Japan secret info for development of F-2’s successor jet
April 18, 2019

The United States has proposed disclosing some of the top-secret details of its state-of-the-art F-35 stealth fighter jet to Japan to encourage joint development of an aircraft that will succeed the Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2 fighter, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The ASDF also has some F-35s. The U.S. plan, which was proposed to the Defense Ministry, would open the door to a jointly developed successor jet based on the F-35 and other fighters, which would be one of the world’s leading fighter aircraft.

According to Japanese government sources, the United States has indicated a willingness to release confidential details about the software installed in the F-35 airframe to control parts including the engine and the missiles. If the F-35 software, currently held exclusively by the U.S. side, is diverted to the F-2 successor aircraft, the United States will disclose the source code to the Japanese side.

If the joint development goes ahead, the United States reportedly is prepared to allow components made in Japan to be replaced with U.S.-made parts that are planned to be used in the F-2’s successor. If these proposals materialize, it would widen the scope for Japanese companies to participate in the aircraft’s development.

The Japanese and U.S. governments started seriously discussing the U.S. proposal at the end of March. The Japanese government intends to decide on the course of the aircraft’s development, including whether to accept the U.S. proposal, by the end of this year.

The ASDF has about 90 F-2s, which Japan and the United States jointly developed. The aging F-2s are scheduled to start being retired from about fiscal 2035. In the newest Medium Term Defense Program, the ministry stated it will “launch a Japan-led [fighter] development project at an early time with the possibility of international collaboration in sight.”

In July 2018, major U.S. defense equipment maker Lockheed Martin Corp. proposed to Japan the joint development of a new aircraft featuring the electronic components of the F-35 in the airframe of the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 advanced stealth fighter jet, which is widely considered the world’s best fighter jet.

According to a Japanese government source, some government officials expect that “combining the F-35 and the F-22 could create the highest-grade fighter jet in the world.” However, the U.S. side had not previously disclosed confidential information about these two fighters, generating deep-rooted concerns that any joint project would not help nurture domestic defense industries and that Japan could not easily make any repairs should they be needed.

Nudged by ‘rival’ Britain
The U.S. willingness to disclose confidential details about the F-35 is aimed at spurring the joint Japan-U.S. development of the F-2’s successor.
The United States has taken a strong interest in the development of the F-2’s successor, a project into which Japan reportedly will pour about ¥2 trillion.

The British government has shown its desire to undertake joint development with Japan and proposed supplying high-level confidential information for such a project. The United States apparently became aware of these moves by a “rival” for Japan’s attention.

With regard to the F-35, one of which recently crashed in the sea off Aomori Prefecture, Japan has only two options: accept completed aircraft from the United States or participate in their assembly. If the latest proposal actually comes to fruition, it would avoid a situation in which the United States keeps confidential information relating to aircraft development under wraps and Japanese companies get shut out of development work. It can be said that the possibility of joint Japan-U.S. development has increased.

The crafting of an information management system due to the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets also led to greater flexibility in the U.S. attitude on this issue.

 
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