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Japan selects Mitsubishi Heavy to lead the development of a new stealth jet fighter

Photo / Art: Concept of the future Japanese fighter

(Reuters) – Japan announced on Friday that it has selected Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to lead the development of a new stealth fighter aircraft that Japan plans to use to combat advanced Chinese aircraft in the mid-2030s.

“We have awarded the main contract to Mitsubishi Heavy,” said a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.

The fighter jet project, which is expected to cost around $ 40 billion, comes at an opportune time for MHI as the company abandons plans to build its regional passenger jet, SpaceJet, as a constraint on coronavirus vacation airlines with little money to buy new aircraft .

The decision was expected because MHI is the only jet fighter manufacturer in Japan and no other company has offered the contract. Further suppliers and partners are expected to be identified by the end of the year.

JASDF F-35A (Japan Self Defense Force photo by JASDF

North American companies that have expressed interest in joining the project include stealth fighter manufacturer Lockheed Martin Corp LMT.N, construction company Boeing, and Northrop Grumman Corp. UK companies include BAE Systems and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce Holdings.

In its budget proposal for next year, the Japanese Ministry of Defense asked for around $ 730 million to fund research and development for the proposed FX or F-3 jet fighter.

The Japanese Air Force flies around 200 Boeing F-15 jets and replaces decades-old F-4 fighter squadrons with F-35s. The new aircraft will succeed the F-2, a derivative of the F-16 Fighting Falcon that was jointly developed by MHI and Lockheed Martin more than two decades ago.

Aeroflap copywriter – journalist with a focus on aviation and fanatics of military aviation – photographer / spotter

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