The ATD-X will be used as a technology demonstrator and research prototype to determine whether domestic advanced technologies for a sixth generation fighter aircraft are viable. The aircraft also features 3D thrust vectoring capability. Thrust is controlled in the ATD-X by the use of 3 paddles on each engine nozzle similar to the system used on the Rockwell X-31, while an axis-symmetric thrust vectoring engine is also being developed for the full scale production model. The nozzles on the prototype appear to be uncovered and might have a slight adverse effect on the aircraft's stealth characteristics.
Among the features the ATD-X is to have is a fly-by-optics flight control system, which by substituting optical fibers for wires, allows data to be transferred faster and with immunity to electromagnetic disturbance.
Its radar will be an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar called the 'Multifunction RF Sensor', which is intended to have broad spectrum agility, capabilities for electronic countermeasures (ECM), electronic support measures (ESM), communications functions, and possibly even microwave weapon functions.
A further feature will be a so-called 'Self Repairing Flight Control Capability', which will allow the aircraft to automatically detect failures or damage in its flight control surfaces, and using the remaining control surfaces, calibrate accordingly to retain controlled flight.
The JASDF is reported to have issued a request for information for engines in the 10 to 20 thousand pound thrust range to power the prototypes while Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries is to provide the engines for the completed fighter.