Japan’s Nikkei financial paper reported Nov. 7 that the X-2 stealth fighter prototype may begin trials with the Japanese Ministry of Defense as early as this month. The announcement comes half a year after the aircraft made its initial and very successful test flight in April.
The X-2 Shinshin is being developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and is Japan’s project to build a stealth jet fighter comparable to the American F-22. If built, it would make Japan one of only four countries—the others being the U.S., Russia, and China—to build fifth-generation combat aircraft.
The MoD trials will test the X-2’s stealth characteristics, Nikkei reported.
Throughout the Cold War, Japan made use of mostly American military equipment, but the F-22 is off-limits to foreign export. Japan, like other American allies, seeks to also acquire the F-35, a multirole aircraft intended to complement the F-22’s air superiority platform. But the F-35 has developed a bad reputation for its design and high development costs.
The Japanese military has been expanding its capabilities rapidly, acquiring advanced ships, submarines, planes, and tanks. Driving this is increasing defense spending by China’s People’s Liberation Army, as well as a growing desire to be independent of American aid in case of a conflict.
Featured image: The X-2 makes its maiden flight. Credit: CC BY 4.0/Japanese Air Self-Defense Force