The Defense Ministry on Tuesday presented a plan to build from fiscal 2024 a prototype of a next-generation fighter jet to succeed the existing F-2 for the Air Self-Defense Force.
The ministry showed a draft schedule for the next-generation fighter development project to a meeting of a group of lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party studying national defense on the day.
A company to undertake the manufacturing of the fighter body will be selected as early as in October, the ministry said. Work to draw up the conceptual design of the shape of the plane, its weight and the thrust of the engine will be launched by the end of fiscal 2020, it said.
Following flight tests, a mass production model is slated to start in fiscal 2031.
Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. is in talks with Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Boeing Co. of the United States on how they can cooperate in the project, according to the ministry. Talks are also underway with four British firms.
The ministry aims to start deploying the new fighter in 2035, when the F-2 jets will retire.
For the new fighter model, the ministry puts priority on stealth and electronic warfare capabilities, and interoperability with the U.S. military.
The development of core parts, such as the fuselage and engine, and a system design will be led by Japan.