Japan unveils future FX fighter… and raises many questions

Last December, the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) changed the name of its combat aircraft program from “Future Fighter” to “FX”, symbolically marking the start of the development phase of this new aircraft. According to our colleagues at Jane's, the MoD should formalize by the end of the year the framework allowing the development of FX in collaboration with a foreign partner. A first illustration of the future aircraft was unveiled for the occasion, showing a fuselage reminiscent of that of the F-22, while the wing / tail configuration rather evokes the NGF of the Franco-German SCAF program.

This new aircraft should enter service with the JASDF (Air Self-Defense Force of Japan) in the mid-2030s and thus replace the F-2A, the last fighter designed in Japan on an F-16C basis. The future development schedule mentioned by Jane's should make it possible to deliver the first aircraft before the start of the F-2 withdrawal. This insistence on replacing the F-2, however, questions the role that this future aircraft could have, and the history of the program.

With the arrival of the F-35, the replacement of the anti-ship F-2s appears to be a much lower priority than that of the air superiority F-15Cs, currently being modernized.

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