An experimental advanced technology demonstrator (ATD) fifth-generation fighter, the X-2 – unofficially named ‘ShinShin’ (Spirit of the Heart) – has been displayed by the Japanese defense Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) at the regional airport near the city of Komaki, in Aichi prefecture, Japan. It has previously been showcased once before in May 2014.
The X-2 is a full-scale test article for technology demonstrations. The Japanese designed-and-built stealth design has been under development since 2009, with total program costs estimated at ¥39.4bn (approximately US$331m).
The X-2 is powered by two Ishikawa Heavy Industries low-bypass turbofan engines, each providing a maximum five tons of thrust. Extending from the exhausts ducts are vectoring paddles that allow the pilot directional control of the hot gasses, greatly increasing an aircraft’s maneuverability. X-2’s thrust vector paddles are serrated for stealth purposes.
According to the Japanese Defense Technical Research and Development Institute, the test craft displayed to the press will not be armed and will be retired in three years, after extensive testing of advanced fifth-generation fighter technologies.
Japan’s Defense Ministry has allocated ¥2.3bn (US$19.3m) for the program in next fiscal year. A decision will be made about the developments of the F-3 Japanese fighter aircraft after the X-2 has completed its role. This replacement aircraft would allow Japan to retire its current F15-J Eagles in the mid-2030s when the fleet will be 50 years old.
The X-2 will be a test platform for multiple technologies including next generation electronically scanned array radar systems, multi-dimensional 3D thrust vectoring concepts and for fine-tuning the aircraft’s stealth capabilities. The X-2 has a special carbon-fiber composite material that absorbs radar waves.
The X-2 has a length of 14.2m and a wingspan of 9.1m and is scheduled to make its maiden flight in February 2016.
February 5, 2016