Japan has unveiled its Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Advanced Technology Demonstrator – Experimental (ATD-X) fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator, known as the X-2. The jet is Japan’s first domestically produced stealth fighter prototype. According to Hirofumi Doi, program manager at the Japan defense ministry’s procurement agency, the X-2 features a special carbon fiber composite material that absorbs radar waves to keep the plane from being detected.
The jet is scheduled to make its first test flight in mid-February. According to Asia-Pacific news source The Diplomat, prior to the test flight, the jet will undergo extensive taxiing and ground trials at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries testing center in Aichi Prefecture.
The jet, which is 14.2 meters (46.5 feet) long and 9.1 meters (29.8 feet) wide, has been under development at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant in Toyoyama, Japan, since 2009. The total cost of ATD-X Shinshin program to build the jet was approximately 39.4 billion yen (around $331 million).
CFRP will not be the only technological innovations featured on the X-2. The aircraft will be fitted with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which will be used for communications and possibly even weapon functions. It will also have a “flight-by-optics flight control system,” where data is transmitted by optical fibers, as opposed to wires. All of these features, Japan believes, will make it a superior successor to Japan’s F-2 fighter jets.
Lance Gatling, president of aerospace firm Nexial Research, told the Wall Street Journal that Japan’s ability to create a plane with these capabilities “puts them in a better position to negotiate with foreign manufacturers on the specifications and technologies involved in any joint development project.”