Saturday, December 08, 2007

Japan got his gun! A new stealth fighter

Japan next-generation stealth fighters' project underway is nicknamed "Shinshin". It has been under development as ATDX at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Defense officials hope to have a test flight of the prototype, "Shinshin" or spirit, by the end of March 2014. Maybe before.

"Japan is tired with scandals linked to defense." Really? The word in Tokyo is that under Prime Minister Fukuda's administration, there are a lot of talking between politicians, bureaucrats and defense equipment manufacturers. Energetic opinions, sound explanations, yes a lot! One knows the passion of Japanese for harmonizing pro and cons, assessing local needs. Japan is to show his muscles?

"The balance seems to be set on mid to long term projects to favor boosting indigenous defense industry", according to our defense sources. It will require further discussions and clear cut choices. A shift, some say, from the Moriya Akiyama Miyazaki recent scandals where transpacific corporations fed a big pot of bribes and arrangements through cultural (not cultural at all) and institutions ghosts, including academics and well remunerated and inebriated go between, made to grease the complex mechanics of procurement decisions.

Hum, quite a lot of shameless people here, but most probably this is how it worked in Japan too. But things changed a few years ago. I remember attending some events of VIPs talking in secret resorts, some academics telling me clearly in Japanese : "We ll build defense materials as we built cameras and fax machines". But not all had ears to listen.

Today, the prediction seems so real. Japanese, because of alleged regional fears and of the mud thrown to the Bush administration in Iraq and Iran, decided to talk to other defense contractors in addition to their natural ally, this is also called a natural policy of diversification clearly set. Something new in town? Not really since Dejima sailors men.

In other words, Japan's care on progress of developing ATD-X follows successions of projects. Japanese being aware of the "well known" rumor about Chinese J-XX (or J-14) project. Added to the South Korean KFX, it's going to be interesting competition to watch.

[FNN TV on ATDX stealth jet]

Japan next-generation stealth fighters' entire project is expected to cost 46.6 billion yen (€285.2 million). Japan’s defense ministry wants a first test flight within five years. Mitsubishi Heavy Industry has been developing the jet with French help, who have been testing the Radar Cross-Section (defines the size and shape of the plane when viewed on a radar display.)

Japan's Technical Research & Development Institute (TRDI) disclosed images of the Mitsubishi ATD-X stealth fighter in the form of a full-scale radar cross-section (RCS) model. The Mitsubishi, creator of the feared Zero of WW2, ATD-X looks a bit like the French Rafale with its wings.

[Picture of the ATD-X]

It is in France at Bruz, near Rennes, in Bretagne's France's DGA defense agency's CELAR (center for military electronics) laboratory constructed the Solange indoor RCS range. A photo found here shows that Solange may be the biggest indoor RCS range in the world, capable of measuring a real fighter rather than a sub-scale mock-up.

[Picture of SOLANGE Anechoic Chamber - ECmwp realization (ANTEM design) Picture Antem/ DGA/CELAR (Chambre Anéchoïque de la base de mesures CHEOPS du CELAR (DGA)]

For a number of years, Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) has taken up a lion’s share of the budget, and continues to do so. Modernizing its fighter-interceptor fleet is very important, particularly in light of its neighbors’ efforts. China has already unveiled its new fighter, which is believed to be one of the most advanced used by any air force in the world today. Beijing is believed to be developing upgraded models with stealth capabilities, a J-XX...

[Pictures Chinese jet engineers]

Dual cooperation. The acquisitions by Japanese of new technologies and systems is built as a spider net, I remember attending Japan Italian defense seminar recently in Shiodome, all was well set during seminars to explain to each observer what Tokyo exactly was ready to give and take. I take here and there what I need to build my plane, my car, my software. "Why should we pay endlessly for what we can build on our own." A politician told me recently in Nagatacho (The Parliament hill of Tokyo).

Well, military aerospace cooperation is one of the projects Japan has with Europeans aerospace and defense manufacturers, an other big one being the new "Super-Concorde" to cut time for his speedy biz men.

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