New look for the F-3
Japan is building its plans for the further development of the Self-Defense Air Force (BCC), and the F-3 project occupies a key place in them. Its goal is to create a promising new generation fighter aircraft with high tactical and technical characteristics. While this project is in its early stages, and some of its features have not yet been determined or not published. Not so long ago, new details became known.
In recent weeks, the Japanese Ministry of Defense published several curious News and new materials for the F-3 project. It follows from them that organizational issues are being resolved. After this stage is completed, it will be possible to proceed to the solution of engineering problems. At the same time, there is already an approximate understanding of what a new aircraft should be like.
In December, the Ministry of Defense published a new image of the future fighter, reflecting current views on the project. The figure shows an integrated layout aircraft with a high wing and a collapsed V-tail. The power plant includes a pair of turbojet engines. Armament is planned to be placed on the external and internal suspension.
However, we are not talking about the final determination of the appearance of the future aircraft. The discussion of this issue continues, and the most interesting suggestions take place. So, the possibility of attracting foreign aircraft manufacturers to work, including with direct borrowing of their technologies and developments.
It is reported that in fiscal 2020, the launch of full-scale development work on the topic F-3 is envisaged. To do this, the fiscal 2020 defense budget A separate item is foreseen for 28 billion yen (more than $ 250 million). Financing will continue over the next years - comparable amounts are likely to be allocated.
The head developer of the F-3 fighter has already been appointed the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries concern. It is also planned to involve other companies in the project, including overseas. This year, the Japanese Ministry of Defense is going to find potential foreign participants. Invitations will be received by BAE Systems, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, etc.
The intention to cooperate with foreign companies led to the appearance of versions of possible approaches to design. The version about plans to borrow operating time or even to create an F-3 aircraft based on an existing foreign car is enjoying some popularity in the media. Which aircraft will be copied or recycled depends on which foreign company will cooperate with Mitsubishi. However, officials did not comment on such versions.
Plane of the future
According to known data, while the F-3 fighter project is in its very early stages. Before the appearance of a complete set of documentation, as well as before the construction of the prototype, several years remain. The construction of the prototype will begin only in the mid-twenties, and its testing can last until the end of the decade.
The main goal of the F-3 project is to fully upgrade the tactical fleet aviation BCC Japan. With the help of these aircraft, it is planned to replace the aging F-2 fighters - a redesigned version of the American F-16. The production of such machines began in 1996 and continued until 2011. According to current plans of the command, the F-2 will remain in service until the thirties.
The industry forces regularly repair and modernize cash fighters, but they will be abandoned in the future. After about 10-12 years, BCC plans to begin the process of decommissioning obsolete F-2s with the replacement of new F-3s.
The F-3 aircraft is being developed with an eye to the distant future, which affects the requirements for it. For some time, it has been claimed that the project will use elements of the conditional sixth generation of fighters. Thus, the promising F-3 will have significant advantages over the current Japanese BCC fighters. In addition, he will be able to remain in service and effectively solve tasks in the distant future.
Currently, the Japanese Air Force tactical aviation uses several types of aircraft. The basis of this fleet is the fourth-generation fighter F-15J and F-2. Operation of such equipment may continue for the next several years, but then replacement will be required. Re-equipment plans have already been drawn up, and their implementation has even begun.
First of all, the BCC will be updated through the purchase of the last fifth-generation American fighter F-35 Lightning II. There is a contract for the supply of approx. 150 of these aircraft in two versions. More than two-thirds of shipments will come from the F-35A; It is also planned to purchase 42 F-35B aircraft. To date, the United States managed to transfer more than a dozen new fighters to the customer, and Japan is engaged in training personnel.
Over the next few years, the new imported F-35s will serve along with older cash types. Then the process of writing off obsolete samples starts, which will change the balance of power and increase the responsibility placed on the Lightings.
In the future, at the turn of the twenties and thirties, the command plans to begin procurement of the next sixth generation fighter. Deliveries of production F-3s will allow for the gradual decommissioning of hopelessly obsolete F-2s, while at the same time obtaining well-known advantages.
Thus, according to the current plans of the Japanese command, over the next years the Self-Defense Forces will seriously upgrade their fleet of combat aircraft with a noticeable increase in combat effectiveness. During the twenties, a fifth generation fighter will be fully introduced into practice, and at the turn of the thirties, troops will receive the equipment of the following model.
It should be noted that in such plans the current F-3 project occupies a special place. In fact, it is this project that is a key component of the rearmament program and determines the future of Japan's ARIA for the next several decades. In addition, he will have to demonstrate the ability of Japanese industry to create a new generation of aircraft.
Japanese aircraft manufacturers have already demonstrated their ability to create modern aircraft - the result of this was the experimental X-2, which was tested in the recent past. However, industry now faces new challenges. The promising F-3 should be developed with a reserve for the distant future, for which it must meet the requirements for the sixth generation that has not yet taken shape.
Whether it will be possible to fulfill all the plans is unknown. So far, the F-3 project is in its very early stages, and even the general appearance of the aircraft has not been determined. Nevertheless, Japan's BCC and contracting companies are committed and intend to bring their new generation aircraft to production and service. In the meantime, the Self-Defense Forces will have to use the existing equipment and master a new foreign model.