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

On 22 April 2016 Japan became the fourth country to test-fly its own stealth jet. The X2 Advanced Technology Demonstrator, called, took off from Nagoya airport in Aichi Prefecture at 8:47 am Friday morning. , flew about 15 kilometers and touched down at the Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Field at 9:13 am. The demonstrator will undergo a further two years of testing before a decision is made on whether to develop a homegrown next-generation stealth fighter. The X2 engines are made by IHI Corp. and its fuselage is developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The demonstrator is also equipped with locally developed stealth technology.

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.

The prototype of Japan's 5th generation F-3 stealth air superiority fighter, the Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin was developed by the Defense Ministry's Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI). It undergwent taxiing and ground trials at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries testing center in Aichi Prefecture, before taking to the skies, flying to the Gifu Air Field in neighboring Gifu Prefecture.

The Mitsubishi F-3 is a planned Japanese indigenous fifth generation fighter. It is planned to evolve from Advanced Technology Demonstrator - X (ATD-X) program. the ATD-X is not a fighter, but rather aa manned sub-scale technology demonstrator, said to be about 1/3rd the size of a possible future fighter.

This aircraft is widely known in Japan as Shinshin [ which in Japanese means the ‘heart’ or the ‘spirit’]. The ShinShin means the ‘heart’ or the ‘spirit’, or "spirit of the heart"]. The ATD-X shares numerous similarities with the F-22. The F-3 borrows the intake ramp of the Raptor, and its Y-shaped tail resembles both the Northrop YF-23 and Lockheed YF-22.

The ATD-X IHI XF5-1 turbofans provide lower thrust (with afterburner) per engine (11,023 pounds each) than the F-22 (35,000+ lb each), but its reduced weight could allow it to out-maneuver the Raptor.

ATD-X Design

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 was 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.


The F-3 will be a different plane from ATD-X. By 2011, developmetn of the new F-3 fighter jet was not a definitely settled matter. At tha time there were several concepts. One is 23 DMU ( number 23 means it was designed in Heisei 23rd year or 2011. DMU means Digital Mock-Up). Another is 24 DMU. It is known that 25 DMU also exists, though it had not been publicly revealed. When F-3 is produced, it will replace every F-2 and F-15J.

By January 2016 delays on the ATD-X prototype, originally scheduled to be fully developed by 2018 (and to make its maiden flight last year), put into question the F-3 schedule. Japan's indigenously developed and produced fifth-generation air superiority fighter, designated the F-3, was expected to begin serial production in 2027.

With the F-3 program starting up in response to the United States' refusal to sell Japan the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor in 2007, Japanese media reported that Lockheed-Martin attempted to undermine the ATD-X's development. Purchasing 42 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft in 2011, Japan indicated that the American planes were an interim solution until Tokyo can develop and produce its own F-3 5th generation fighter.

TRDI is working on another next-generation fighter project called the "i3 Fighter" (Informed, Intelligent and Instantaneous) which will build on the technologies tested by the ATD-X. The i3 Fighter concept was expected to form the basis of a production fighter should Japan proceed with plans for a domestically built platform after 2018.

In June 2016 Japan’s defense ministry released a Request for Information for its next fighter program, an early step toward the acquisition to shape the country’s air force in the middle of the century. The ministry is sought information on three alternatives: creating a new fighter type, modifying an existing one or importing. In seeking the data, it did not use the conventional term “request for information," but that was what the exercise amounts to. Responses were due by 05 July 2016. It seemed the ministry could only be satisfied with a new type, since no fighter now in production came close to concept designs that showed what it really wanted: a large, twin-engine aircraft with long endurance and internal carriage of six big air-to-air missiles. This requirement is interesting, since the American F-22 can carry six A-120 internally, while the adn F-35 has accomodation for four missiles. For new designs, the ministry’s acquisition, technology and logistics agency requested information on respondents’ capabilities and latest technology. For upgrades and straight imports, it wants to know about the current aircraft.

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