Mitsubishi F-2 Multirole Fighter / Maritime Strike
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force maintains a capable multi-role performer in the F-16-inspired Mitsubishi F-2.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Mitsubishi F-2 fighter was initially intended as a wholly indigenous Japanese multirole fighter design to replace the aging fleet of Mitsubishi F-1s. With design work already underway during the 1980s under the FS-X program designation, the United States government moved in with enough political and economic pressure to force Japan into abandoning its local fighter plans in favor of continued support for American-originated military equipment. The Japan indigenous initiative, therefore, ended in 1987 and the program focused on procurement of the Lockheed F-16C "Fighting Falcon" multirole platform (Block 40). The aircraft would be modified to suit Japanese military requirements headed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with Lockheed remaining the primary US contributor. General Electric would provide the necessary turbofan engines. The program produced four modified F-16Cs in the early going and these served as prototypes. First flight was recorded on October 7th, 1995 while, in December, the aircraft was formally designated "F-2". Adopted in 2000, the F-2 continues to serve the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) in the air defense, ground attack and maritime strike roles. With ongoing disputes against China and general volatility in the region, the F-2 plays an increasingly important role in Japanese air operations for the island nation (January 2014).
Despite its obvious appearance to the America fighter, the Mitsubishi F-2 incorporates enough new features and local technology to consider it a highly modified Japanese variant of the F-16. The F-2, at its core, is a single-seat, single-engine mount powered by the successful General Electric GE F100-series turbofan with reheat (afterburner). The fuselage, though mimicking the American F-16C in general contour and shape, has evolved to become some 25% larger than the original with more advanced composites introduced to its construction. The fuselage has been lengthened and a three-piece framed cockpit selected over the large -area glass version on the F-16. The tail unit has been given an increase in surface area while the intake is of a larger dimension. Due to restrictions imposed by the American State Department on export of fly-by-wire control software, Japanese engineers have developed a local solution. The nose assembly, too, houses a Mitsubishi-brand Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar while the cockpit retains Head-Up Display (HUD), color Multi-Function Displays (MFDs) and Hands-on-Throttle-and-Stick (HOTAS) control arrangement.