This is the first of a new weekly series centered on lesser known stealth aircraft like Japan's ATD-X, South Korea's KAI-X, Russia's T-50K, and several others. This week the subject is Japan's ATD-X.
ATD-X stands for Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X, and will probably be built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The ATD-X's maiden flight is scheduled for around 2014, and in June the Japanese government reaffirmed the plan for the ATD-X's maiden flight in 2014.
The ATD-X is thought to be a jumping off point from where the Japanese can develop their own stealth fighter similar to the F-22 Raptor. The ATD-X is supposed to be equipped with a 3D thrust vectoring system similar to that of the Rockwell X-31. The ATD-X is also supposed to be equipped with an unknown AESA radar which possibly could have microwave weapon capabilities. Other planed features the ATD-X is supposed to have are, a fly-by-optics flight control system, a so-called "Self Repairing Flight Control Capability", which can detect damage or failures in the flight control system and use the remaining flight control surfaces to maintain controlled flight.
Besides this, not much else is known about the ATD-X, but in 2005 there was a series of tests done with a model to examine the ATD-X's radar cross section, but no results have been made public from those tests. The Japanese government has said that if they decide to put a stealth fighter into production the decision will be made around 2016. The ATD-X program will probably not affect Japan's purchase of either, the F-35 Lightning II, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, or the Eurofighter Typhoon to replace their aging F-4Js and F-15Js.
Over the next few years it will be interesting to see how Japan develops the ATD-X, and how other Asian nations respond to it.
Photo Credit: Flightglobal, (picture is an artist's impression of the ATD-X)