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Japan Air Force TURNS UP THE HEAT on China with the Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin Stealth Aircraft


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The Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin (formerly the ATD-X) is a Japanese experimental aircraft for testing advanced stealth fighter aircraft technologies. It is being developed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) for research purposes. The main contractor of the project is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Many consider this aircraft to be Japan's first domestically made stealth fighter. ATD-X is an acronym for "Advanced Technology Demonstrator – X". The aircraft is widely known in Japan as Shinshin (心神, meaning "Mount Fuji")[2][3] although the name itself is an early code name within the Japan Self-Defense Forces and is not officially in use.[4][5][6] The aircraft's first flight was on 22 April 2016.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Japan, seeking to replace its aging fleet of fighter aircraft, began making overtures to the United States on the topic of purchasing several Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighters.[7] However the U.S. Congress had banned the exporting of the aircraft in order to safeguard secrets of the aircraft's technology such as its extensive use of stealth; this rejection necessitated Japan to develop its own modern fighter, to be equipped with stealth features and other advanced systems.

A radio-controlled 1/5 scale model made its first flight in 2006 to gain data on performance at high angles of attack and to test new sensory equipment and self-repairing flight control systems.[8]

Following these preliminary steps, the decision was taken in 2007 to push ahead with the multi billion-yen project. At the time of this decision, production was forecast to start roughly 10 years later, around 2017. In 2007, the ATD-X was expected to conduct its maiden flight in 2014.[9] In 2011, the maiden flight was projected to take place in 2014 or 2015.[10]

Model of ATD-X
The 40 billion yen construction project in the Mitsubishi's Komaki South Plant began in 2009 and is under supervision of the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency of the Defense Ministry.[11][12] In July 2014, the TRDI (Technical Research & Development Institute) released the first official photos of the ATD-X prototype, and stated that the aircraft was undergoing ground testing. The fighter prototype was expected to be fully developed by 2018.[13] The ATD-X program will then lead to a F-3 fighter which should carry sixth-generation technology, expected to be produced in 2027.[14]

The ATD-X prototype was officially unveiled on 29 January 2016. The aircraft's first flight was expected the following month;[15][16] it carried the X-2 official military designation at the unveiling.[17]

The X-2 made its maiden flight on 22 April 2016 taking off from Nagoya Airfield and landing at the JASDF's Gifu Air Field after a 26-minute flight.[18] The unusually prolonged period between structural completion and first flight has not been fully explained. The Jiji News Agency reported that the X-2 has a take-off weight of about 13 metric tons (28,700 lbs); Japanese media reported in 2007 a weight of 9 tons for the X-2, which is high for a demonstrator of its dimensions (9.1 meters span and 14.2 meters long).[19]

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