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Advanced Technology Demonstrator – X (ATD-X) Shinshin (“Spirit”)

The “Advanced Technology Demonstrator – X” (ATD-X) prototype under development by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is not officially planned for production. The Japanese Ministry of Defence will used the ATD-X as a technology demonstrator and research prototype to determine whether domestic advanced technologies for a 5th generation fighter aircraft are viable.

By some initial reports, the ATD-X was a 1/3 size model of a possible full-production aircraft. Some reports stated that the design is mostly inspired by F-22 Raptor, but the photographs of the mockup generally resemble the F-15SE Silent Eagle stealth design by Boeing. Notably, Boeing's F-15J is produced in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The Department of Air Systems Development of the Technical Research and Development Institute of the Ministry of Defense is in charge of developing aircrafts, aircraft engines, avionics and other equipment, including the ATD-X. Japan is feeling the pressure of a regional dogfight over fighter superiority. "If the countries surrounding Japan have stealth capabilities, Japan will need to develop those capabilities itself to ensure our own defense," said Col. Yoshikazu Takizawa of the Defense Ministry's Technical Research and Development Institute. "Japan wanted the F-22, but Congress didn't agree to that," Yoshioka said. "We realized that it was important for us to develop our domestic capabilities."

Early studies forcued on the excellence demanded by the development of future fighters and study of aircraft flight control. This study was to determine the method for moving the rudder surface, as well as controlling the aircraft using engine thrust. It was used charts to validate the stealth high movement form was designed based on radio wave reflecting characteristics in actual size whole aircraft real RCS Radar Cross Section test model. A mock-up of the ATD-X was constructed for radar cross section study in France in 2005. A 1/5 scale radio-controlled model of the shape first flew in 2006, to conduct tests on performance at high angles of attack aas well as to test new sensory equipment and self-repairing flight control systems. Subsequently, in 2007 it was decided to build a prototype that would fly in 2014, with potential for production around the year 2017.

The ATD prototype project was launched in Japanese fiscal year 2009 (April 2009-March 2010) in the situation of next-generation fighter development programs in neighboring countries. Through flight tests of advanced technologies relating to stealth and high maneuverability, the project aims at the empirical research of the advanced fighter technologies and air defense systems that are capable of coping with the stealth fighters that may soon be deployed around Japan. By 2010 it was reported that the ATD-X would be similar in size to the Gripen. It would be powered by a pair of IHI XF5 afterburning, thrust-vectoring engines, derived from the XF7 turbofan used by Japan's Kawasaki XP-1 maritime patrol aircraft.

In March 2011 it was reported that General Hideyuki Yoshioka, director of air systems development at the Ministry of Defense, stated that the ATD-X, or Shinshin (“Spirit”) fighter will fly for the first time some time in 2014. The prototype would test advanced technologies, and if successful the government would decide in 2016 how to proceed. Japan had put 39 billion yen (abou US$475 million) into the project since 2009, once it became clear the US was unlikely to sell the F-22 “Raptor. A successful test flight of the prototype, dubbed “Shinshin” (“Spirit”), would not lead to immediate production.

On March 28, 2012 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) began assembly of a full-scale structural-testing model of an Advanced Technology Demonstrator (ATD). The ATD, which MHI is building under the contract with the Japan Ministry of Defense, will be used to prove the airworthiness of advanced technologies, including stealth capabilities and high maneuverability, for future Japanese fighters. With the commencement of assembly, the ATD project has now moved into the production phase. To mark the beginning of assembly work, the "first rivet" ceremony was held at the Tobishima Plant of MHI's Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works in Aichi Prefecture. Among those attendees were Yoshitaka Akiyama, Director General of the Technical Research & Development Institute, the Japan Ministry of Defense; Haruhiko Kataoka, Japan Air Self-Defense Force Chief of Staff; and Takashi Kobayashi, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and Head of MHI's Aerospace Systems. During the ceremony, an equipment mounting bracket was riveted to the bulkhead separating the fuel tank from the forward equipment bay in the mid fuselage, which houses electronic equipments. It marks the first step in the assembly of the ATD aircraft. This riveting was conducted for the full-scale static structural test model to be used to obtain strength data of the aircraft’s basic structural elements and to verify the design of the ATD.

With the assembly of the full-scale static structural test model as the first step, the ATD project is on track to produce a flight test model that is expected to make its first flight in 2014. The project is slated for completion by the end of March 2017. MHI is committed to playing a major role in Japanese defense industry going forward and will make every effort to see the ATD project through to a successful completion.

Crew 1
Length 14.2 meters (46.5 feet)
Wingspan 9.1 meters (29.9 feet)
Height 4.5 meters (14.8 feet)
Max takeoff weight 8 tonnes max takeoff weight alt = 17,600 pounds ()
Powerplant 2 × IHI XF5-1.
Dry thrust 10 tonnes (22,000 pounds) each
Thrust with afterburner 15 tonnes (33,000 pounds) each
Maximum speed
At altitude Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph, 2,400 km/h)[116]
Supercruise Mach 1.82 (1,200 mph, 1,950 km/h)[116]
Range >1,600 nmi (1,800 mi, 2,900 km) with 2 external fuel tanks
Combat radius 410 nmi (470 mi, 760 km)
Ferry range 2,000 mi (1,750 nmi, 3,200 km)
Service ceiling 65,000 ft (19,800 m)
Wing loading 77 lb/ft² (375 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight 1.08 (1.26 with loaded weight & 50% fuel)
Maximum design g-load -3.0/+9.0 g[116]
Guns 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A2 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon in starboard wing root
  • AIM-9 Sidewinder,
  • AIM-7 Sparrow,
  • Mitsubishi AAM-3,
  • Mitsubishi AAM-4 (from FY2010)
  • air-to-ground weapons
  • ASM-1 anti-ship missile
  • ASM-2 anti-ship missile
  • free-fall bombs with GCS-1 IIR seeker heads,
  • JDAM
  • others J/AAQ-2 FLIR

    ATD-X Stealth ATD-X Stealth ATD-X Stealth

    ATD-X Stealth

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