The Defense Ministry has compiled a design concept of new fighter jets that will replace the Air Self-Defense Forces’ F-2 fighter jets, planning for the succeeding jets to be able to carry and launch drones to detect distant enemy planes and also to share radar information with the drones, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.
The new planes will be large stealth fighters, exceeding the capability of the cutting-edge F-35A fighter jets introduced by the ASDF. The Defense Ministry will examine how to develop the new jets, such as joint development with the United States, in a bid to deal with China’s modernizing air force.
In March, the ministry notified the governments of the United States and Britain of part of the design concept of the F-2 successor, such as its performance requirements. Other than carrying small drones, the ministry considers that the new jets will have the capacity to internally carry eight air-to-air missiles, doubling the load of the F-35A.
Its maximum speed will be Mach 2, almost equal to that of the F-2, and key features will be designed to be similar or superior to the F-35A, such as its radars’ detection range, stealth technology and cruising distance. Regarding carrying air-to-ship missiles, the ministry assumes they will be carried externally depending on their missions.
As Japan’s neighboring countries have been enhancing their level of stealth technology, which guards against radar detection, the ministry has recognized the need to handle the situation by having the new jets carry drones.
China announced deployment of its domestically developed cutting-edge Chengdu J-20 stealth fighters in February. High stealth technology used by other countries’ aircraft means an overwhelming disadvantage in combat for Japanese aircraft as it will become difficult to detect other planes until they approach very close to the Japanese planes. For this reason, the ministry came up with the idea of carrying drones to detect enemy planes from a long distance. The ministry plans to develop the drones along with the new fighter jets. (end of excerpt)
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