Two historic events in the world of combat aviation will take place in December. Japan will announce a sixth-generation fighter, and Northrop Grumman will unveil the B-21 Raider nuclear bomber.
Here's What We Know
If in the case of the B-21 Raider we are talking about the presentation of a full-fledged aircraft that will make its first flight in 2023, Japan will make only a paper announcement of its fighter. It will replace the Mitsubishi F-2.
The British company BAE Systems and Italy's Leonardo are involved in the project to develop the Japanese aircraft. Besides, the engine for the sixth generation fighter will be developed by Rolls Royce (UK), IHI (Japan) and Avio (Italy).
Tests of the aircraft will take place in 2028-2031, when the F-2 will be retired and decommissioned. The year 2035 is a key year for all sixth-generation fighter manufacturers. This is when the UK, the US and China plan to take their aircraft into service. Japan is no exception.
Only Europe and Russia are lagging behind. In the first case, the participants of the FCAS project (Spain, France and Germany) cannot decide who is in charge. Though recently the countries seem to have agreed on something. In the second case, Western sanctions have played their role.
Returning to the subject of the Japanese aircraft, it should be noted that the Land of the Rising Sun wants to get 90 fighters, which would complement the fleet of 147 units of F-35 Lightning II. At that Defense Minister Taro Kono said that the Japanese plane must carry more air-to-air missiles than the American one (four).
Another requirement for the sixth generation fighter was a wide stealth capability. The cost of 90 planes will be $48 billion, but this does not mean that one fighter will cost more than $500 million. This amount includes the cost of development, testing and all related costs.
Source: Asahi Shimbun