BLUF

Japan is planning to build its own fighter the F-X as an eventual replacement for the F-35.

Summary

Japan plans to develop the F-X program using Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) as the main contractor. MHI will, however, be ‘backstopped’ by Lockheed Martin. Japan tends to build military aircraft to meet its own requirements, but is happy to share with other national programs such as the UK's Tempest and South Korea's KF-X. Worth noting the following points about the F-X:
 
  • It is a big, twin-engine fighter, and will have more range and endurance than most other modern fighters.
  • Will be heavier than the F-22 which means it is likely to weigh well over 20 tonnes—hence the ASPI's nick-name Godzilla!
  • A slow  development program partly aimed at keeping factories operating together with a production run of only 90 units means they are expensive—each unit costing A$170.
  • The F-X should be ready to replace the F-35 in 2035 when the F-35 will probably be out of date.
Consider whether it would benefit Australia to become involved with the development of the F-X.