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Japan picks Mitsubishi Heavy to develop its own stealth fighter

43 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

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It's finally dawned on the government that sustaining an indigenous defense industry makes more sense than importing foreign engineers (from failed companies) to help make a civil regional jet that uses more fuel than current regional airliners.

Each and every new civil aircraft is more efficient than current competitors. How can the spacejet get off the ground without even more wasteful subsidies from the government.

This defense minister definitely has more sense than the last.

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

Drones or unmanned vehicles are better and more urged to develop. The latest Nagorno-Karabakh conflict proves its superiority.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The company said it has decided to cut costs and focus on potential growth sectors such as cleaner energy projects and cybersecurity, to boost its profitability.

Cut potential growth sectors and become more dependent to Government money.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Mitsubishi is the ‘go to’ company for the manufacture of weapons.The company produced the Zero fighter in the last world war...

-2 ( +7 / -9 )

It would be way, way cheaper to buy the aircraft off the shelf, but the last thing this free-market, conservative LDP-led govt wants to do is reign in public spending.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Japan can produce its own military aircrafts without approval or obstruction of other countries.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

... with taxpayer's money.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Buying into the past. The next generation fighter will have no pilots.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Finally, the government has decided to develop its own military aircraft instead of relying entirely on US imports. It’s a move into the right direction. Mitsubishi Heavy is the company that produced Zero fighters during WW2. I’m sure they will make state-of-the art fighter planes.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Yup, I agree with a couple of the posts. Unless Japan is ready to implement first strike capability which is against its constitution, then UAV is the future for the defense of Japan. Plus with Japan's low birth rate, who's going to fly and maintain these new stealth jets? You could easily transfer the stealth technology to drones and have video game raised generations flying the vehicles. Japan is once again going the same way they did in WWII with the Yamato and Musashi in the age of carriers.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The financial black hole known as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet has been lucky to survive so long on their books, as they continued to pour money into it, change the executives, restructure the development office, ramp up the hype and PR, in attempts to get it certified, and find buyers. This appears to be a good decision, and maybe, just maybe they have learned something along the way.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@kurisupisu

Mitsubishi is the ‘go to’ company for the manufacture of weapons.

Recent history of Mitsubishi engineering disasters in the past 10 years.

1) Two AIDA cruise ships contracted for $1 billion, cost $3.2 billion to build and Mitsubishi lost $2.2 billion.

2) San Onofre Nuclear in California closed because Mitsubishi supplied steam generators leaked radioactive coolants, the power company lost $4 billion thanks to Mitsubishi.

3) Mitsubishi quit the MRJ/SpaceJet program after having spent $10 billion and 12 years on the program.

4) Mitsubishi built containership MOL Comfort broke in half in the middle of ocean off the coast of Yemen. After that, even Japanese shippers order their containerships from Korea.

@vanityofvanities

Japan can produce its own military aircrafts without approval or obstruction of other countries.

Actually Japan needs US approval to gain access to critical technologies for the jet.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

The same company that completely looks ridiculous, not able to get a civil plane certified after 14 years is now going to make the “ new generation “ fighter jet ? It will be a zero alright. By the time it gets to flying it will be as outdated as the “ space “ jet. Nice reward for MH the fighter contract after Great job on the civil airliner.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The pre-war zaibatsu are still the beating heart of the Japanese economy, and all of them were and are somehow involved in the munitions industry.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

The government obviously has to do their fair share in helping a behemoth like Mitsubishi recover all that money they lost in the first half. It's only the right thing to do, folks.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

MHI has such a great track record, they're the obvious choice....

Work on the aircraft, called SpaceJet and formerly known as the MRJ, will be put on hold, it said. Test flights began in 2015, and deliveries had been planned for Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways.

"The first flight of the MRJ was in November 2015.[8] After several delays, deliveries were scheduled to start by mid-2020,[9] later delayed again in late 2021 or in 2022." [wikipedia]

put on hold

'let off the hook' might be more appropriate.... (⌒▽⌒)

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@expat Pre-war zaibetsu reincarnated as keiretsu, following MITI (predecessor to METI) decision in 1953 to allow grouping of trading and manufacturing companies to concentrate scarce capital in the domestic economy. 

Taken from the good summary here: https://corporate.findlaw.com/corporate-governance/zaibatsu-and-keiretsu-amp-150-understanding-japanese.html

4 ( +4 / -0 )

There are groups who are not happy Japan entering in the market of aircrafts. I suspect that is the true reason Mitsubishi's SuperJet cannot fly.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Good, it's time we take matters into our own hands. Especially if that buzzing-non-stop orange bee wins again.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

dozens of F-35s

Actually 128 isn’t dozens. They also are full of defects and the cost is being paid for with the pension funds of our old people.

it is great if we can develop our own weapons.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

AgentX:

... with taxpayer's money.

I am so delighted to pay tax for F-X, for which I have been advocating for so many years.

Self-dependence is what Japan needs.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan has no experience of developing an indigenous fighter aircraft from the ground up since the Zero. Things have moved on a bit since then. To even catch up they will have to either partner with a US company or persuade the US to transfer advanced technological know how. Trying to reinvent the wheel will cost a lot of time and money and as they are so far behind will take an age to catch up.

Combat drones are a very long way from taking over from piloted aircraft, they are totally reliant on satellites which can be blinded or taken out; on data links which can be hacked, corrupted or blocked. Current drones have been used against enemies who do not have the means of attacking them this way but a peer or near peer enemy will. In any fast jet combat the inevitable delay between aircraft an controller would be fatal.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@noriahojanen

Drones or unmanned vehicles are better and more urged to develop. The latest Nagorno-Karabakh conflict proves its superiority

Images of drones' strikes in this conflict sure look impressive, but don't forget that Turkey- and Israel-made drones of the Azeri forces are used in rather permissive environment, Armenian air defence is not very sophisticated. When face stronfer AD (particularly with electronic countermeasures and jamming) drones lose a lot of their effectiveness. And now drones can rival a bomber with payload. Piloted planes will stay. And Japan needs their own combat planes!

@JeffLee

It would be way, way cheaper to buy the aircraft off the shelf

Cheaper is not always better. And cheaper now can turn into much, much more expensive later, when the owner of the shelf raises the price tag or makes other demands. If Japan wants to keep its engineering edge and its industrial base it should make its own planes. Better feed your industry then the industry of another country.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

If USA sold Japan F-22, Japan may not make F-3. Japan must have strong fighter against China. Chinese military budget is at least 4 times larger than Japanese budget.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I always know that Samit Basu my man will always get grilled by Japanese ultranationalists at the comment section.

There is no way in hell that Japan can independently develop their own jetfighter. Because they can't do it with commercial aircrafts, which all related projects have been suspended recently.

If Mitsubishi Heavy is going to do this, it's likely an American aircraft plastered with Japanese drawings. 99.9% is American made, while 0.1% is Japanese made. Yeah, the Japanese cronies will call it a Japanese aircraft, while Lockheed Martin and Boeing will silently take away Japanese taxpayers' money.

China can at least do a 30% of their own military aircrafts, and Japan isn't on the Chinese level. So please, drop the dream of going toes to toes with China when your own economy is heavily dependent on the Chinese. Leave the jobs of balancing against to the US, India and ASEAN instead.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Big surprise! Absolutely no news. Mistsubishi, with strong relations & loyalty to the throne, has been in the airline industry for decades, going back to pre-war days. I don’t see it being used for military purposes in Japan, but as another product to sell abroad. Made in Japan still carries weight, including military.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

An insatiable military industrial complex of our own.

Viagra for the flaccid ghouls at Nippon Kaigi.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

For Japan to remain competitive in the high tech arena it must develop its own industries and conduct its own research. Expanding such industries expands the base of technologies used to further Japans manufacturing and exports. Discoveries for military equipment are often at the fore front and can often be transferred and used in the civilian sector. It also helps Japan gain some independence for defense equipment manufacturing if the island is blockaded by any future conflict. Having the ability to build navy ships and fighter planes are both absolute necessities during war time but starting them once a war has already begun is time consuming.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Made in Japan... not good enough anymore.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Septim Dynasty

Yeah, the Japanese cronies will call it a Japanese aircraft, while Lockheed Martin and Boeing will silently take away Japanese taxpayers' money.

The issue with Japan's combat aircraft is avionics(computer systems).

Japan as you know is terrible at software development, so there is an uncertainty about the origin of avionics software, American or British. China's J-20 and Korea's KF-X are equipped with domestic avionics and have a domestic content rate of higher than 68%, but this is uncertain for Japan's F-3. Japanese MOD is shooting for a 50% domestic content rate. This target figure may go down if the XF9 engine fails to make it to the production units.

@Peter14

For Japan to remain competitive in the high tech arena it must develop its own industries and conduct its own research.

Japan is now a post-industrial society that is moving away from manufacturing to depend on finance and tourism.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Finally, the government has decided to develop its own military aircraft instead of relying entirely on US imports. It’s a move into the right direction. Mitsubishi Heavy is the company that produced Zero fighters during WW2. I’m sure they will make state-of-the art fighter planes.

Mitsubishi built a large number of F-2 fighters for the JASDF. Where you aware of this? It looks like an enlarged F-16 outside but all the systems in it are Japanese and it came off a Japanese production line. Japan built their own F-15s as well. Mitsubishi built both.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Japan as you know is terrible at software development, so there is an uncertainty about the origin of avionics software, American or British. China's J-20 and Korea's KF-X are equipped with domestic avionics and have a domestic content rate of higher than 68%, but this is uncertain for Japan's F-3. Japanese MOD is shooting for a 50% domestic content rate. This target figure may go down if the XF9 engine fails to make it to the production units.

Where do you come up with this nonsense? The KF-X is being built with Lockheed-Martin technical support. Many of the technologies in the KF-X are straight out of the F-35 including the AESA radar. China obtains considerable technical support regarding avionics, radars and countermeasures from Israel. Israel helped design the earlier J-10 (even had a program office for it in Beijing), designed the helmet mounted sighting system and they even use Israeli air to air missiles.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Btw, anybody who has ever had to deal with German software such as SAP enterprise software of BMWs and Audi's miserable CAN-Bus systems for example, compared to the software in Japanese cars would never in a million years accuse the Japanese of being poor software developers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Big surprise! Absolutely no news. Mistsubishi, with strong relations & loyalty to the throne, has been in the airline industry for decades, going back to pre-war days. I don’t see it being used for military purposes in Japan, but as another product to sell abroad. Made in Japan still carries weight, including military.

News item - MHI has been building combat aircraft for the JASDF since the 1970s, including the F-15J/DJ, F-1 and F-2. So no surprise actually.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Btw, anybody who has ever had to deal with German software such as SAP enterprise software of BMWs and Audi's miserable CAN-Bus systems for example, compared to the software in Japanese cars would never in a million years accuse the Japanese of being poor software developers.

I can't speak to Japanese military software, nor to German software. But, being in the industry for many years, I can indeed confirm that Japanese software is generally not well written.

I personally am of the opinion that this is in large part because of the difference in schooling in Japan versus the west. In the West, schooling is very procedural; history is studied in a linear manner, essays are written with an intro, supporting content, and a summary. In Japan, schooling is objective. They learn history based on events that happened, the buildup that led to it, and the situation of the major players. Essays are not required to have the same intro-content-summary structure.

Software development is something that can become very complex very quickly. The best software is written the cleanest - much in the manner that an argument is most logical when presented in an intro, content and summary format.

In my experience, Japanese software is generally not cleanly built, and often lacks a user-friendly interface.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Desert Tortoise

Mitsubishi built a large number of F-2 fighters for the JASDF.

Well, the F-2 is not really an indigenous design. 

all the systems in it are Japanese 

Actually the avionics of F-2 is supplied by Lockheed Martin and Japanese are incapable of updating it. I too was shocked to find this out. This is the reason behind cancelled integration of the ASM-3 into the F-2 and JASDF is currently looking for a foreign contractor to update the F-2 avionics in a manner similar to the F-15J update by Boeing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_F-2#Design

Avionics were supplied by Lockheed Martin

.

The KF-X is being built with Lockheed-Martin technical support.

The "technical support" means design review. Actual design work is done by KAI. The way Koreans execute risky projects is to have an experienced foreign reviewer to review the design work to iron out design errors that inevitably creep in if a complex system is to be designed without a prior experience. 

Mitsubishi tried to design the MRJ without this foreign reviewer and this is why the program failed.

Many of the technologies in the KF-X are straight out of the F-35 including the AESA radar.

The AESA radar design is pure Korean, by Hanwha, a massive integrated defense contractor.  

compared to the software in Japanese cars would never in a million years accuse the Japanese of being poor software developers.

In case you haven't heard, today's Japanese cars feature Infotainment software that are several years behind German and Korean rivals. Very dated. The same with smartphones and consumer electronics. 

MHI has been building combat aircraft for the JASDF since the 1970s, including the F-15J/DJ, F-1 and F-2. So no surprise actually.

But Mitsubishi didn't design them from scratch. Always built, never designed.

@Strangerland

I can indeed confirm that Japanese software is generally not well written.

Bingo.

I personally am of the opinion that this is in large part because of the difference in schooling in Japan versus the west

The problem is that the West(US) approach software development as engineering. 

Japanese software developers approach software development as an art.

The Japanese method worked while software was relatively simply, but couldn't keep up once code became tens of millions of lines in a given project.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The Japanese method worked while software was relatively simply, but couldn't keep up once code became tens of millions of lines in a given project.

Yet Japanese cars and appliances are more reliable and easier to fix than their German counterparts. I used to swear by all things German but no more. They can't even make a reliable toaster or coffee pot. They do stupid things like putting the speed control triac inside the motor housing of a vacuum where carbon dust contaminates and shorts it. Their motorcycles and cars are horrible to work on due to their software. If you don't have an $11,000 hardware/software suite and a subscription to BMW AG you can't access their software in their cars and bikes. Ridiculous. The Japanese software is an open book. They hide nothing. US automotive software is much simpler, but the data transfer rates are an order of magnitude slower than Japanese or German cars use. The Germans like complexity for complexities sake and that is not a good choice. Sometimes simpler is better. Maybe the Japanese know more than you think.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It was a Japanese who created the Ruby programming language. I can't think of a single contribution Koreans have made to the software industry.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@knightsofraiden

I can't think of a single contribution Koreans have made to the software industry.

Never heard of LINE? No wonder.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The problem is that the West(US) approach software development as engineering. 

Japanese software developers approach software development as an art.

The best software is somewhere in the middle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If USA sold Japan F-22, Japan may not make F-3. Japan must have strong fighter against China. Chinese military budget is at least 4 times larger than Japanese budget.

The F22 is yesterday's news. For one thing it costs as much per hour to fly as a B-52, which is the main reason more of them were not built. In any event, a new 6th gen fighter is already flying in the US. For now it is called "Next Generation Air Dominance". No photos or manufacturer are available yet. It can supposedly go into production "soon"

https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2020/09/15/the-us-air-force-has-built-and-flown-a-mysterious-full-scale-prototype-of-its-future-fighter-jet/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan thought about introducing the F-22 around 2007, and once it became clear in 2009 that Japan couldn't, Japan became keen to develop their own.

Nowadays, the F-22 class can be developed in Japan, and since they need to compete with China's state-of-the-art aircraft in the 2040s, Japan no longer needs the F-22 and needs an even more powerful aircraft.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan thought about introducing the F-22 around 2007, and once it became clear in 2009 that Japan couldn't, Japan became keen to develop their own.

The F-22 was not designed to be sold to allies abroad and as a result everything on the plane is classified. Some nations such as Japan and Australia indicated an interest in it but it was never going to be sold abroad. Because almost everything on that airplane including the engines are classified, that means even routine repair parts and the worn out parts returned to the US have to be handled as classified material. That alone made the aircraft too costly and difficult for a foreign nation to maintain. Imagine, worn out parts have to be shipped to the US and securely destroyed so no materials ever become available to an enemy. That means you can't dispose of worn out parts by selling them for scrap or piling them up in a bone yard in a dusty corner of the air base. In addition its cost per flight hour is almost the same as that of an eight-engine B-52. A bit over 50% more expensive per flight hour as an F-15 which itself is more that twice as costly per flight hour as an F/A-18E of F.

The F-35 by comparison was designed from the outset to be sold to allies, even built by them, so it is easier for foreign nations to maintain. Only the US and UK receive all the low observable technologies, everyone else gets something less classified in case some nation decides to change sides and let the Russians and Chinese have a look at their F-35s. The export models won't reveal very much they don't already know.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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