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Mitsubishi F-3
Advanced Technology Demonstrator – X (ATD-X)
Shinshin (“Spirit”)

ATD-X Program

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.

In 2009, Japan realized that the F-22 was not going to be exported; and so the development of ShinShin was accelerated. 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 the Advanced Technology Demonstrator. The ATD, which MHI was 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 had 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 seemed on track to produce a flight test model that was expected to make its first flight in 2014. The project was slated for completion by the end of March 2017. MHI was 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.

By 2014 there were several design alternatives: one is 23 DMU ( number 23 means it is designed in Heisei 23rd year or 2011. DMU means Digital Mock-Up) and other is 24 DMU. Digital Mock-Ups were made to examine the future fighter aircraft, stealth capability and weapon arrangement within internal weapon bay. The 23 DMU had an F-22 shape and was designed in Heisei 23rd (2011). The 24 DMU with YF-23 shape was been designed on Heisei 24th (2012). The 25 DMU is known to be exist but it isn't publicized. The future fighter aircraft (F-3) will designed based on these DMUs.

Japan aimed to trial its indigenous stealth fighter in the summer of 2015. “The highly anticipated F-3, Japan's first domestically-made stealth jet, is aiming to conduct test flights this summer,” the Taiwan-based Want China Times reported, citing a story in the PLA Daily, the official publication of the Chinese military.

James Simpson, writing for IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, reported 08 January 2015 that the ATD-X fighter test platform would not fly until at least late 2015 due to issues with the software that controls automatic engine restarts. The first test flight was scheduled to take place before the end of the current financial year in March 2015, but the problems affecting the engine control unit (ECU) will require several months to resolve

Full-scale development was scheduled for 2016 or 2017. The F-3s are expected to replace the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Mitsubishi F-2 and F-15J fleets. However, since the F-3s are not expected to enter service until the 2030s, Japan upgraded its F-2s — which it stopped producing in 2011 — to carry medium-range AAM-4B radar-guided air to air missiles.

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Page last modified: 02-07-2016 14:53:21 ZULU