First F-2 fighter delivered to ASDF

Kyodo

The Air Self-Defense Force took delivery of its first next-generation F-2 support fighter from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. in a ceremony Monday.

The aircraft — which at about 12 billion yen per plane is considered the most expensive fighter on record — was handed over by Mitsubishi Heavy at the company’s plant in Toyoyama, Aichi Prefecture.

The Defense Agency had planned to deploy the plane today to the ASDF’s Misawa base in Aomori Prefecture, but decided to postpone deployment to comply with requests made by a group of Misawa Municipal Assembly members, who expressed safety concerns.

The agency said it plans to deploy 20 F-2 fighters to Misawa by the end of March. It envisions 130 F-2s based in Japan in the future and the retirement of its F-1 and F-4 fighters.

The F-2, initially called the FS-X, was jointly developed by Japan and the United States. After kicking off in 1988, development was completed in June after a delay of 15 months caused by defects — including cracked wings and weak tail assemblies — in the prototype.

The F-2 is based on the U.S. F-16 fighter.