Mitsubishi calls it the X-2 and it’s supposed to fly for the first time this month:
Defence officials said the aircraft is designed to test the stealth technology that would possibly be combined with the next-generation fighter jet, replacing the fleet of F-2 fighters as early as 2028.
The red-and-white aircraft, with a 14-meter-long fuselage and 9-meter-long wingspan, sat inside a hanger at the Nagoya Airport in central Japan.
Led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, the stealth plane comes with radar-resistance features, including a canopy with special stealth-enhancing coating, and mobility.
“I cannot go into details, but we recognise it is technologically at a very high level,” said Takahiro Yoshida, an official in charge of the project at the Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency of the Defense Ministry.
My initial impression is that it’s so small it looks more like a trainer than a frontline fighter jet. It certainly isn’t going to be able to carry any weapons internally, rendering it a whole lot less stealthy with missiles and bombs hanging off of its wings.
Perhaps this is nothing more than a test platform for homegrown radar-absorbing materials, and/or a stealthy airframe profile. If that’s the case, Japan is going to have an impossible time replying these by 2028.