Mitsubishi F-2

The F-2 is a fighter aircraft manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a 60/40 split in manufacturing between Japan and the USA. Production started in 1996 and the first aircraft entered service in 2000. By 2008, the first 76 aircraft are expected to be in service, with a total of 94 airframes under contract at this time. 

In October 1987, Japan selected the F-16 as the basis of its new secondary fighter, to replace the aging Mitsubishi F-1 and supplement its main air superiorty fighter, the F-15J as well as the F-4EJ. The first flight of the F-2 was on October 7, 1995. Later that year, the Japanese government approved an order for 141 to enter service by 1999; structural problems resulted in service entry being delayed until 2000. Because of issues with cost-efficiency, orders for the aircraft were severely curtailed to 98 in 2004.

Mitsubishi F-2
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation
Origin Japan
Country Name Origin Year
Japan 1995
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Japan 2000 2008 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation 76 View

Work started in the FS-X program, initially given the company designation Mitsubishi SX-3, and began in earnest with a memorandum of understanding between Japan and the United States. It would lead to a new fighter based on the General Dynamics (post 1993, Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon, and in particular the F-16 Agile Falcon proposal. Lockheed Martin was chosen as the major subcontractor to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and the two companies co-developed and co-produced the aircraft. The F-2 used the wing design of the F-16 Agile Falcon, but much of the electronics were further updated to 1990s standards.

In October 1987, Japan selected the F-16 as the basis of its new secondary fighter, to replace the aging Mitsubishi F-1 and supplement its main air superiority fighter, the F-15J as well as the F-4EJ. The program involved technology transfer from the USA to Japan and vice versa. Responsibility for cost sharing was split 60% by Japan and 40% by USA. Lockheed Martin would manufacture all the aft fuselages and wing leading-edge flaps and eight of the ten left-hand wingboxes.

The F-2 program was controversial, because the unit cost, which includes development costs, is roughly four times that of a Block 50/52 F-16, which does not include development costs. Inclusion of development costs distorts the incremental unit cost (this happens with most modern military aircraft), though even at the planned procurement levels, the price per aircraft was somewhat high. The initial plan of 141 F-2s would have reduced the unit cost by up to US$10 million(€7,5 million) per unit, not including reduced cost from mass production. As of 2008, 94 aircraft were planned. Also controversial is the amounts claimed to be paid to American side as various licensing fees, although making use of the pre-existing technology was much cheaper than trying to develop it from scratch.

The F-2's maiden flight was on 7 October 1995. Later that year, the Japanese government approved an order for 141 (but that was soon cut to 130), to enter service by 1999; structural problems resulted in service entry being delayed until 2000. Because of issues with cost-efficiency, orders for the aircraft were curtailed to 98 (including four prototypes) in 2004. Flight testing of the four prototypes were conducted by the Japan Defense Agency at Gifu Air Field.

The last of 94 production aircraft ordered under contract was delivered to the Defense Ministry on 27 September 2011. During the roll-out ceremony of the last production F-2 fighter jet, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed that production of the F-2 would end and no more F-2 fighters will be produced by the manufacturer. As of 2014 there are 61 single-seaters flying, and 21 two-seat trainers.

On 7 February 2013, two Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 fighters briefly entered Japanese airspace off Rishiri Island near Hokkaido, flying south over the Sea of Japan before turning back to the north. Four F-2 fighters were scrambled to visually confirm the Russian planes, warning them by radio to leave their airspace. A photo taken by a JASDF pilot of one of the two Su-27s was released by the Japan Ministry of Defense. Russia denied the incursion, saying the jets were making routine flights near the disputed Kuril Islands.

On 22 August 2013, two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 Bear-F maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) entered Japanese airspace near the major southern island of Kyushu for less than 2 minutes. F-2 fighters were scrambled in response.

Role Multirole fighter
National origin Japan, United States
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries,Lockheed Martin
First flight 7 October 1995
Introduction 2000
Status In service
Primary user Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Produced 1995–2011
Number built 94, plus 4 prototypes
Unit cost ¥12 billion yen; $127 million (constant 2009 USD)
Developed from General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon


General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Length: 15.52 m (50 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: 11.13 m (36 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 4.69 m (15 ft 5 in)
  • Wing area: 34.84 m (375 ft)
  • Empty weight: 9,527 kg (21,000 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 15,000 kg (33,000 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 22,100 kg (48,700 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 x General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan, 76 kN military thrust, 131 kN with afterburner (17,000 lbf military thrust 29,500 lbf with afterburner)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 at altitude
  • Range: 834 km on anti-ship mission (520 miles)
  • Service ceiling 18,000 m (59,000 ft)
  • Rate of climb: m/s (ft/min)
  • Wing loading: 430 kg/m at weight of 15,000 kg (88 lb/ft)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.89

Armament

  • 20 mm JM61A1 cannon, plus maximum weapon load of 8085 kg:
  • AAMs: AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, Mitsubishi AAM-3,Mitsubishi AAM-4
  • air-to-ground weapons include: ASM-1 and ASM-2 anti-ship missiles, various free-fall bombs with CGS-1 IIR seeker heads

Avionics

  • Mitsubishi Active Electronically Scanned Array radar system.

End notes