Japan’s new fighter takes

 - February 18, 2008, 10:52 PM

Japan’s defense budget for Fiscal Year 2008 includes only Y7 billion ($66 million) for the Mitsubishi ATD-X Shin-shin (Spirit) new-technology fighter demonstrator. The amount is considerably less than the Y49.9 billion ($462 million) requested by the organization overseeing the program, the Technical Research and Development Institute. While the sum will allow design and development work to continue, the start of construction of the demonstrator will be delayed.

Design work on advanced fighters has been going on for some time, a mock-up of one configuration having been tested in a French RCS range in 2005. Last July the construction of a flying Advanced Technology Demonstrator gained approval, a move widely seen as a response to U.S. refusal to release the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor for export.

To be built purely as a demonstrator, the Shin-shin is a stealthy design with some similarities to the F-22, although it is considerably smaller. Power comes from two IHI XF5-1 afterburning engines, derived from the same core as that of the XF7 high-bypass-ratio turbofan used in the Kawasaki XP-1 maritime patroller. The powerplant design includes thrust-vectoring nozzles.