Mitsubishi ATD-X as of 2007
Role: Stealth experimental aircraft
National origin: Japan
Manufacturer: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
First flight: 2014 (projected)
Status: Under development
Primary user: Japan Air Self-Defense Force
The Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin is a prototype fifth-generation jet fighter that uses advanced stealth technology. It is being developed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) for research purposes. The main contractor of the project is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Many consider this aircraft to be Japan's first domestically made stealth fighter. ATD-X is an acronym meaning "Advanced Technology Demonstrator – X". The aircraft's Japanese name is Shinshin (心神?, literally "mind"). The aircraft's first flight is scheduled for 2014.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century, Japan, seeking to replace its aging fleet of fighter aircraft, began making overtures to the United States on the topic of purchasing several Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighters for their own forces. However the U.S. Congress had banned the exporting of the aircraft in order to safeguard secrets of the aircraft's technology such as its extensive use of stealth; this rejection necessitated Japan to develop its own modern fighter, to be equipped with stealth features and other advanced systems.
A mock-up of the ATD-X was constructed and used to study the radar cross section in France in 2005. A radio-controlled 1/5 scale model made its first flight in 2006 to gain data on performance at high angles of attack and to test new sensory equipment and self-repairing flight control systems.
Following these preliminary steps, the decision was taken in 2007 to push ahead with the multi billion-yen project. At the time of this decision, production was forecast to start roughly 10 years later, around 2017. In 2007, the ATD-X was expected to conduct its maiden flight in 2014. In 2011, the maiden flight is to take place in 2014 or 2015.
The ATD-X program will then lead to a F-3 fighter to be produced in 2027.
The ATD-X will be used as a technology demonstrator and research prototype to determine whether domestic advanced technologies for a fifth generation fighter aircraft are viable, and is a 1/3 size model of a possible full-production aircraft.The aircraft also features 3D thrust vectoring capability. Thrust is controlled in the ATD-X by the use of 3 paddles on each engine nozzle similar to the system used on the Rockwell X-31, while an axis-symmetric thrust vectoring engine is also being developed for the full scale production model.The nozzles on the prototype appear to be uncovered and might have a slight adverse effect on the aircraft's stealth characteristics.
Among the features the ATD-X is to have is a fly-by-optics flight control system, which by substituting optical fibers for wires, allows data to be transferred faster and with immunity to electromagnetic disturbance.
Its radar will be an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar called the 'Multifunction RF Sensor', which is intended to have broad spectrum agility, capabilities for electronic countermeasures (ECM), electronic support measures (ESM), communications functions, and possibly even microwave weapon functions.
A further feature will be a so-called 'Self Repairing Flight Control Capability' (自己修復飛行制御機能?), which will allow the aircraft to automatically detect failures or damage in its flight control surfaces, and using the remaining control surfaces, calibrate accordingly to retain controlled flight.
The JASDF is reported to have issued a request for information for engines in the 10 to 20 thousand pound thrust range to power the prototypes while Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries is to provide the engines for the completed fighter.
Data from Miyakawa et al, 2008
Length: 14.174 meters (46.50 feet)
Wingspan: 9.099 meters (29.85 feet)
Height: 4.514 meters (14.80 feet)
Max. takeoff weight: 13 tonnes (28,659 pounds)
Powerplant: 2 × IHI XF5-1 turbofans
Dry thrust: 10 tonnes (22,046 pounds) each
Thrust with afterburner: 15 tonnes (33,069 pounds) each
Maximum speed: Mach 2+