In the decades following World War 2 (1939-1945), the Japanese defense industry was rebuilt. After the end of US occupation of Japan in 1952, the island nation established its "Self-Defense Force" (1954) for its own protection and continued its relationship with the US through a 1960 security treaty. With the rise of Mach 2 supersonic fighters - the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) itself taking stocks of the Mach 2-capable Lockheed F-104 "Starfighter" and McDonnell Douglas F-4 "Phantom II" during the 1960s - the country found itself lacking a viable supersonic trainer for its next generation of fighter pilots. Despite nearing a deal with European powers to license-produce the British/French SEPECAT "Jaguar" strike platform, Japanese authorities eventually headed in a different direction, attempting an indigenous Japanese aircraft of similar form and function to the European product. In 1967, a Mitsubishi submission was selected ahead of competing designs from Fuji and Kawasaki, bringing about the Mitsubishi "T-2" - a two-seat, twin-engine, jet-powered trainer capable of a 1,050 mile per hour speeds. The aircraft also retained some combat effectiveness and was outfitted with an internal cannon and three hardpoints for external munitions as well as wingtip missiles. Some 90 of the type were eventually produced after adoption in 1975. These aircraft saw decades of faithful service before being retired in March of 2006.
With the cancellation of an unrelated Kawasaki project, funding for a single-seat attack platform based on the T-2 advanced trainer was made available. The T-2 airframe was nominally modified for the role to include a reinforced airframe, additional underwing hardpoints (2), a search and ranging radar in the nose (initially J/AWG-11 then J/AWG-12 series), loss of the instructor's rear cockpit in favor of avionics and a simplified canopy over a revised upper fuselage. In two prototype forms, the aircraft was known as the "FS-T2-Kai" and a first flight was recorded on June 3rd, 1975. In that same year, evaluation models were passed on to the Air Proving Wing at Gifu. After successfully passing its requisite trials phase, the aircraft was officially adopted under the "F-1" designation to become Japan's first locally-designed and produced fighter (jet-powered) since the end of World War 2. The F-1 formally entered service in April of 1978. Production of F-1s spanned into 1987 and yielded 77 total aircraft. It is worth mentioning that development of the F-1 was aided by Fuji involvement.
Power for the F-1 was served through 2 x Ishikawa-Harima Industries (IHI) TF40-IHI-801A series turbofan engines (with reheat), delivering 5,115lbs thrust (dry) and 7,300lbs thrust (with afterburner engaged). Incidentally, this was the same Rolls-Royce Turbomeca "Adour" turbofan that powered the European Jaguar though license-built in Japan under the TF-40 designation. This provided the airframe with a maximum speed of 1,050 miles per hour, a combat radius of 345 miles and a ferry range of 1,785 miles. The F-1 could reach a service ceiling of 50,000 feet through a rate-of-climb nearing 35,000 feet per minute. In comparison, the British / French Jaguar offered a maximum speed of 1,050 miles per hour, a combat radius of 560 miles, ferry range of 2,190 miles and a service ceiling of 45,900 feet.
The Mitsubishi product sported a standard armament of 1 x 20mm JM61A1 Vulcan Gatling gun utilizing six rotating barrels. This weapon was internally mounted and intended for close-ranged fighting. With its five primary external hardpoints (the wingtips reserved for anti-aircraft missiles), the F-1 could field a mix of air-to-air, air-to-surface and radar-guided anti-ship missiles. Additionally, the hardpoints supported rocket pods and 500lb/750lb conventional drop bombs. Conversion kits enabled precision bombing from these weapons as well. Collectively, the F-1 could fulfill the battlefield roles of fighter, strike fighter and anti-ship platform - essentially presenting herself as a multirole aircraft system.
Production of F-1s was handled through Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and their servicer proved solid though none were ever to see combat action. The F-1 was then replaced by the newer Mitsubishi F-2 which was a joint US-Japanese venture based on the General Dynamics/Lockheed F-16C/D Fighting Falcon multirole line though modified considerably for JASDF service. Additionally, the aging line of F-4 Phantoms was upgraded to the F-4EJ "Kai" standard as an interim solution. Both the F-2 and F-4 have been produced locally by Mitsubishi.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
58.6 ft (17.85 m)
25.9 ft (7.88 m)
14.7 ft (4.48 m)
14,017 lb (6,358 kg)
30,203 lb (13,700 kg)
+16,186 lb (+7,342 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Mitsubishi F-1 (Supersonic Rei-Sen) production variant)
2 x Ishikawajima-Harima TF40-IHI-801A afterburning turbofans developing 7,305lb of thrust each.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Mitsubishi F-1 (Supersonic Rei-Sen) production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
1 x 20mm JM61 Vulcan 6-barreled internal cannon.
2 x AIM-9L OR Mitsubishi AAM-1 air-to-air missiles (on wingtip mounts).
2 x ASM-1 anti-ship missiles, rocket pods, or conventional drop bombs (500lb/750lb).
2 x Jettisonable fuel stores as required.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 7 (including wingtip mounts)
F-1 - Base Series Designation; introduction in 1978 and 77 examples produced.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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