Japan conducts first flight of X-2 stealth demonstrator


On April 22 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) successfully completed the maiden flight of the X-2 demonstrator stealth jet, becoming the fourth nation to have developed and flown a stealth fighter.

The aircraft took off from Nagoya Airport and went through a series of trials to confirm basic manoeuvres including climbing, descent and circling, MHI said. It then landed at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base. After completing the maiden flight, the pilot, from MHI, described the flight experience as “extremely stable.”
“Control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions,” he said, “and after piloting the aircraft I’m 100% positive the X-2 is magnificent and will meet the Ministry of Defense’s requirements.”

The X-2 is a prototype stealth aircraft – the first in Japan to feature technology impeding its detection by radar – engineered for extremely high manoeuvrability. The prototype integrates an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment all adaptable to future fighters.

As the coordinating company of the X-2 development project, MHI has been developing the aircraft’s airframe since 2009 with cooperation provided by 220 domestic companies and guidance from Japan’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA). In this way, world-class cutting-edge technologies developed in Japan are featured throughout the prototype unit, MHI said.

Development of the X-2 is scheduled to conclude in the next two to three years before a decision to mass produce the aircraft. First flight was originally scheduled for January 2015.

The X-2 aims to prove stealth and manoeuvrability technologies, such as co-cured composites and radar-absorbent materials; ‘smart’ skin sensors; and nose-mounted passive radio frequency (RF) sensor and infrared (IR) seeker, IHS Jane’s reports.