A prototype of Japan’s first domestically made stealth fighter is expected to make its maiden flight in February, a ministry source said Sunday.
After Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and other developers failed to meet the Defense Ministry’s original March 2015 delivery deadline, it was extended to the end of March 2016 to verify the engine’s ability to restart from shutdown during flight.
After ground tests in late January at a Mitsubishi Heavy plant in Aichi Prefecture, the jet is scheduled to fly from its plant in the town of Toyoyama in February to an Air Self-Defense Force base in Kagamihara, Gifu Prefecture, according to the source.
According to the ministry, development of a full-scale test model began in fiscal 2009 with the participation of several domestic companies.
The jet, which is 14.2 meters long, 9.1 meters wide and 4.5 meters high, makes use of carbon fiber to absorb radio waves, allowing it to evade radar detection.