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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Last week, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper revealed new details of Tokyo’s ambitious plans to offer fighter jets and other lethal weapons to India and 12 other countries for the first time. While the article didn’t mention what is on the offer but Japan’s fighter jet developmental program revolves around domestically developing a sixth-generation F-X stealth fighter with International partners.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) plans to build a next-generation fighter to succeed Japan’s outgoing F-2 aircraft. F-X development timeline foresees the construction of a prototype in 2024, with a first flight to follow in 2028 with entry into service following in 2035, which is the same development timeline that India’s kept for its ambitious 5.5Gen AMCA fighter program.

Tokyo plans to develop a next-generation air superiority fighter to replace its 97 F-16-derived F-2 fighters by the 2030s and some of the older American-made F-15s. Japan might be willing to offer India a stake in its development of a sixth-generation F-X stealth fighter but is India willing to neglect its own 5.5Gen AMCA fighter program is highly doubtful since the Indian air force is fully onboard the local program and also just seems to be not interested in procurement of 5gen or 6thgen fighter jets from abroad.

Collaboration between AMCA and F-X program?

India’s AMCA and Japan’s F-X stealth program have taken parallel trajectories with no earlier cooperation between both programs there are limited chances of integration of the systems and sub-systems. Japan already has a formidable aerospace ecosystem in place and India due to the Tejas Mk1 program has established the same and will improve upon after completion of the Mk2 program and also has plans for the development of a Naval 4.5Gen TEDBF program before AMCA becomes a reality.

Japan already has pretty advanced avionics and aerospace electronic systems of its own and often was the first to introduce next-gen technologies to the world and its airborne weapons program is also pretty advance.

Japan’s IHI Corporation is reportedly planning to partner with Britain’s Rolls-Royce while India’s GTRE will partner with French Safran for the development of new engines for their respected program so both programs have already taken different routes with limited options for further collaboration at least on the engine front.

Conclusion

Japan already is procuring roughly 142 Lockheed F-35A and F-35B Lightning stealth fighters but the F-X could be a generation ahead of the F-35 and rival Chinese and Russian stealth fighters it is estimated that the total program cost will be $48 billion which seems to be the only reason why Tokyo is keen to have some of the countries join the program so that at least it can secure funds from some of the interested countries.

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