While the international defense industries continue to pitch their fifth-generation fighters to Japan, Japanese domestic defense manufacturers (namely Mitsubishi, Fuji, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries) are pressing the government to supply funds to their F-X programs for a domestically-produced fighter (such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s ATD-X [see above and bottom]). With the F-35 seemingly at the forefront of the fifth-generation fighter race, the consortium of these manufacturers – the Society of Japanese Aerospace Companies – is worried that the tight restrictions over the F-35′s technology will prevent them from maintaining the technical skills necessary to produce future fighters. Aviation Week reports:
“Domestic development and production needs to be sustained in case the United States withholds its technology,” [the society] says, indirectly reminding the government of its failed attempt to buy the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor for the F-X.
“Among 13 companies interviewed [for this report], only one said that it could return fighter engineers to fighter work after a five-year gap,” the society says.
However, with a shrinking defense budget, it is seems unlikely that the Society will get the funding necessary for the Japanese government to buy sufficient numbers of F-35s and keep the domestic F-X program afloat.
2008 TV segment on Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s ATD-X
A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan.
His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch