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Japanese Defense Ministry eyes domestic fighter jet

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posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 08:58 AM
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It seems I need to add clairvoyant to my list of job skills. A few weeks back I was discussing the pros and cons of the US ban (for now) on foreign F-22 sales to Japan and its effect on the F-35 sales drive. I noted that the F-22 ban and steerage of allied customers towards the F-35 could backfire. I even went so far as to speculate that Japan could choose to go it alone or in partnership with another western power. View Export Variant Of The F-35 Near Approval to see what was discussed.

Having said that a few weeks later it seems I was right on the money (Ahww hell, it wasnt nothing!
). The following story turned up in the last couple of days.

"Oh that was easy", for my next trick I'll be picking the winner of the Indian fighter competion, predicting the eventual per unit cost of the F-35, and lastly how many FA-18E/F Super Hornets the US Navy will buy to cover the abandonment of the F-35C (Oopps, did I say that out loud?
).

LEE.




posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 01:55 PM
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Good article, really breaks down the situation. Given the troubled program that is the F-2 and the monetary, technological, political as well as industrial considerations I can't see Japan perusing an independent next generation fighter. Prototype and test study, yes, but full production? Not a chance. Between the time it would take for such a program to reach IOC and the inherent complexity of it I see this as just leverage.

PS. Overlapping Rhino and F-35C production lines is nothing to fear... The more the merrier I say.


[edit on 25-7-2007 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 03:33 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
I can't see Japan perusing an independent next generation fighter. Prototype and test study, yes, but full production? Not a chance.



Well - virtually all the money is spent on the prototype and test study.

It would be kinda silly to do all that (and if the result was good) not produce it!



If I was making the call (and had to develop a manned A2A fighter) - I would develop the prototype as a full-scale aircraft, with internal weapons bays etc.


I would not develop the avonics for it, but simply buy them off the shelf from someone else - with current systems being designed around interchangeability, this does not represent the problem it once did.



posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 06:23 PM
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The prototype that they in mind is more in the realm of a limited technology demonstrator void of weaponry, avionics, sensors and not even full size. As you know quite well there is a bit more than that involved in a full combat ready production run. Not even the US with more money, experience, technology, industry and resources could develop and field a next generation fighter in less than a decade as was evident by the F-22 and now with the F-35. In Japan's case they'll be lucky to get a prototype flying before ~2015 as the article mentions.

[edit on 25-7-2007 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jul, 25 2007 @ 09:56 PM
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I remember there was a thread a while back with pictures of a proposed Japanese-specific JSF interceptor variant with major modifications to focus it more on the A2A role.

It would have a higher top speed and supercruise speed than the existing F-35 variants.

Since the US is reluctant to sell Japan the F-22, they don't have a lot of options.
Their F-15J's are no longer cutting-edge aircraft, and Japan is a major power.
They have to do something to begin updating their fighter fleet.

EDIT: Found the pics from that thread, the Japanese JSF variant would be called the F-3:





[edit on 7/25/07 by xmotex]



posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 02:07 AM
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WestPoint,
When your calculating R&D costs, i must remind you that Japan is atleast a decade ahead on the USA in both rapid prototyping and highly flexible manufacturing systems. Those should give them at least 2-3 years worth of time savings in an airplane R&D.

Disclaimer: some companies in USA are on a cutting edge on these issues, but majority lags behind including the aircraft manufacturers.

And outsourcing both radar and avionics to Israelis etc. should help them even more.



posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 03:34 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
The prototype that they in mind is more in the realm of a limited technology demonstrator void of weaponry, avionics, sensors and not even full size. As you know quite well there is a bit more than that involved in a full combat ready production run. Not even the US with more money, experience, technology, industry and resources could develop and field a next generation fighter in less than a decade as was evident by the F-22 and now with the F-35. In Japan's case they'll be lucky to get a prototype flying before ~2015 as the article mentions.

[edit on 25-7-2007 by WestPoint23]



Not wanting to diss the US or anything - but you are aware that others have done much better?


Saab Gripen. Contract signed 1982, first flight, 1987 with first production aircraft built in 1993.



posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 04:26 AM
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Oh they could very well do it all alone.

Design, development and prototype testing.
If its a success production would defnitely follow.
I'm sure they learnt a lot from the F-1 and F-2 programs.



posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 02:06 PM
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Originally posted by thebozeian

"Oh that was easy", for my next trick I'll be picking the winner of the Indian fighter competion....

LEE.



Let us in on the secret!!



posted on Jul, 26 2007 @ 03:07 PM
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Originally posted by Daedalus3

Originally posted by thebozeian

"Oh that was easy", for my next trick I'll be picking the winner of the Indian fighter competion....

LEE.



Let us in on the secret!!



My money goes on the AESA equipped MiG-35



posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 06:58 AM
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Originally posted by northwolf
When your calculating R&D costs, i must remind you that Japan is atleast a decade ahead on the USA in both rapid prototyping and highly flexible manufacturing systems.


Well, Japan is at least a decade behind in terms of industrial capacity to produce highly complex military fighters on it's own. Not to mention the military lag in terms of technology, stealth, engines, manufacturing techniques etc… When it comes to the military sector Japan is not at an advantage in this field.


Originally posted by northwolf
And outsourcing both radar and avionics to Israelis etc. should help them even more.


If they use off the shelf technology and current foreign systems instead of developing new ones they will be hard pressed to develop a fighter in the same le league as the F-35 much less the F-22. In that case the program does not make sense when they could have just bought the F-53 for far cheaper and much sooner. I.e. Another F-2 moment…


Originally posted by kilcoo316
Saab Gripen. Contract signed 1982, first flight, 1987 with first production aircraft built in 1993.


With all due respect to Saab, the Gripen was not such a generational and technological leap like the F-22 and F-35. If Japan wants to develop a true 5th Generation fighter on it's own it will take a long time indeed.



posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 07:51 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
With all due respect to Saab, the Gripen was not such a generational and technological leap like the F-22 and F-35. If Japan wants to develop a true 5th Generation fighter on it's own it will take a long time indeed.



Those two aircraft are a large step as a result of many small individual steps.


If I was running it, I would outsource the radar/avionics, that removes alot the budget right there. They would also be outsourcing the engine, another big budgetary item.


Fashioning an efficient aerodynamic shape with low radar returns is not that complicated with the computing power available these days. I could chuck out a workable aerodynamic/radar shape right here within a month or 2.

The RAM materials side might be a bit more complex, but the Japanese are as good as anyone and better than most in manufacturing.



posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 10:37 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23

Well, Japan is at least a decade behind in terms of industrial capacity to produce highly complex military fighters on it's own. Not to mention the military lag in terms of technology, stealth, engines, manufacturing techniques etc… When it comes to the military sector Japan is not at an advantage in this field.


Could you tell me how manufacturing components to a fighter jet differs from making other highly sophisticated products? making a carbonfibre frame is a same process weather you make a fighter or a racecar...



posted on Jul, 27 2007 @ 12:58 PM
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Originally posted by northwolf
Could you tell me how manufacturing components to a fighter jet differs from making other highly sophisticated products? making a carbonfibre frame is a same process weather you make a fighter or a racecar...



Or a Boeing 787 wing and wingbox




They could definitely do it if they wanted. Westy, your on a loser with this argument!



posted on Jul, 29 2007 @ 08:37 AM
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Originally posted by kilcoo316
Those two aircraft are a large step as a result of many small individual steps.


Not really, the F-35 maybe, but most of the systems for the F-22 were designed for it, hence the high R&D cost and long development time.


Originally posted by kilcoo316
If I was running it, I would outsource the radar/avionics, that removes alot the budget right there. They would also be outsourcing the engine, another big budgetary item.


What the point of this design? To produce a fighter locally or to create a viable 5th generation replacement? Because you are not going to get close to the latter this way.

And as for manufacturing, there is indeed a big difference from producing cars to military aircraft anyone in the industry would tell you so. Don't over simply the issue and look over all the resource and technical aspects of it. GM for example could not turn around and produce an F-22 (or compete with Lockheed for that matter) even if we gave them a considerable amount of time.


Originally posted by kilcoo316
Westy, your on a loser with this argument!


Right, because the F-2 project, a much simpler and easier program has turn out such a stellar aircraft? Japan can produce a fighter locally, I just don't think it will be in the same league as the F-35 or F-22. And it it's not than the whole point of it become moot.



posted on Jul, 29 2007 @ 01:04 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Not really, the F-35 maybe, but most of the systems for the F-22 were designed for it, hence the high R&D cost and long development time.


Yes really.


There is not one part of the F-22 which is in isolation revolutionary.

What is the big deal is the combination of it all into one superbly executed package.



Originally posted by WestPoint23
What the point of this design? To produce a fighter locally or to create a viable 5th generation replacement? Because you are not going to get close to the latter this way.


The point of this design will be to best meet Japan's needs for its next fighter procurement.

If the F-35 does not meet it, and they are not allowed to purchase the F-22, what is to stop them buying engines and avionics and making the airframe themselves?

That way, they can have a bigger (than the F-35) airframe, have their 2 engines, have their ideal fuel fractions, have their ideal load-outs, their ideal radardome size*, their ideal crew config, their ideal cruise speed (be it supercruise or not), TVC if they want it etc etc.



*much, much easier now since AESA antenna can be custom fit from the T/R modules without the need for backend development - plug and play.



Originally posted by WestPoint230
And as for manufacturing, there is indeed a big difference from producing cars to military aircraft anyone in the industry would tell you so. Don't over simply the issue and look over all the resource and technical aspects of it.


I don't have to ask anyone for an industrial opinion.


Your completely underestimating the competency and technical level of the Japanese - just doing some quick googling, and I've underestimated their technical level.

They have developed AESA radars, they have developed integrated EW packs, they have (with Honeywell) developed fly-by-wire systems [not that that is a particularly tough technical challenge].

Of course, the engine is external, but I have been saying that should be the arrangement anyway.



Originally posted by WestPoint23
GM for example could not turn around and produce an F-22 (or compete with Lockheed for that matter) even if we gave them a considerable amount of time.


GM don't design aircraft, Mitsubishi, Honda, Kawasaki, Fuji heavy industries all already do considerable work in the aerospace field.


The Japanese also have extensive ongoing research programs run by JAXA, their equivalent of NASA.



Originally posted by WestPoint23
Right, because the F-2 project, a much simpler and easier program has turn out such a stellar aircraft? Japan can produce a fighter locally, I just don't think it will be in the same league as the F-35 or F-22. And it it's not than the whole point of it become moot.


Your opinion. I don't share it.

There is nothing magical in the water in the US that prevents other nations from matching its technical creations.




[edit on 29/7/07 by kilcoo316]



posted on Jul, 29 2007 @ 01:51 PM
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Right, because the F-2 project, a much simpler and easier program has turn out such a stellar aircraft?


Well actually, for the role it was intended for, it's quite a good aircraft.

As a specialized maritime strike fighter it has it's role well covered: good payload, good range, excellent sensors (AESA radar!) As essentially an enlarged f-16 it also has excellent capabilities in it's secondary A2A role.

The main problem with it is that it's expensive as hell - around $100M a pop if I'm not mistaken



posted on Jul, 30 2007 @ 12:02 AM
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Originally posted by kilcoo316
There is not one part of the F-22 which is in isolation revolutionary.


Revolutionary, maybe not, but it would not be a small feat trying to duplicate them even on an individual basis, let alone the whole package.


Originally posted by kilcoo316
Your completely underestimating the competency and technical level of the Japanese - just doing some quick googling, and I've underestimated their technical level.


You are once again glossing over the fact that we are talking about the defense sector, Japan holds no real advantage here.


Originally posted by kilcoo316
They have developed AESA radars, they have developed integrated EW packs, they have (with Honeywell) developed fly-by-wire systems [not that that is a particularly tough technical challenge].


"They"? You might want to look at the level of technology transfers and involvement concerning US defense corporations when it comes to the Japanese military. Who do you think helped them with the AESA?


Originally posted by kilcoo316
There is nothing magical in the water in the US that prevents other nations from matching its technical creations.


I'm just not sure about the time line involved. You first need a foundation on which to build and expand. The US did not get to where it's at overnight, or even over several years. I'm sure given enough time the Japanese could one day build an F-22 but where will the cutting edge at that time be?


Originally posted by xmotex
The main problem with it is that it's expensive as hell - around $100M a pop if I'm not mistaken.


Well the main problem is that Japan did not build it by themselves. There was heavy US involvement and development (research, manufacturing etc...) in the project without which I have doubts the fighter would be what it is.

Even with a lot of the initial R/D, baseline design and critical systems already developed you still end up with a 100 Million dollar fighter (without R/D) and with more than a decade worth of development. This for essentially a 4-4.5 Gen aircraft (with a lot of US help). Now they are going to develop a 5 Gen F-35/F-22 on short notice with little problems and cost? Lets be realistic here.

[edit on 30-7-2007 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jul, 30 2007 @ 07:29 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Revolutionary, maybe not, but it would not be a small feat trying to duplicate them even on an individual basis, let alone the whole package.


Erm, no, not really.

The most amazing thing about the F-22 is its engines. They would be truly hard for any country to try and replicate.

Sensor fusion is just programming and smart design (not that technically challenging).


The airframe, well, with the explosion of computing power, CFD is used for most design work in any country at the moment. I recall quite clearly a guy who was over here from Lockheed... or was it NASA - complain that alot of wind tunnels in the states were closing, and alot of expertise is being lost - due to the cost savings from cfd. So the Japanese don't need a vast network of wind-tunnels and testing rigs. The JSF was almost exclusively designed on computers.

I've already pointed out several aerospace companies in Japan.


Originally posted by WestPoint23
You are once again glossing over the fact that we are talking about the defense sector, Japan holds no real advantage here.


And you are continually trying to give the impression that the defence sector is different from everything else, where in fact it isn't.




Originally posted by WestPoint23
"They"? You might want to look at the level of technology transfers and involvement concerning US defense corporations when it comes to the Japanese military. Who do you think helped them with the AESA?


And?

Does that matter now?

Do you think they didn't take any of the information on board and will need it repeated?



Originally posted by WestPoint23
I'm just not sure about the time line involved. You first need a foundation on which to build and expand. The US did not get to where it's at overnight, or even over several years. I'm sure given enough time the Japanese could one day build an F-22 but where will the cutting edge at that time be?


Again - they don't have to build an F-22.

They have to build what suits them. You'd do well to recognise that.








Originally posted by WestPoint23
Well the main problem is that Japan did not build it by themselves. There was heavy US involvement and development (research, manufacturing etc...) in the project without which I have doubts the fighter would be what it is.

Even with a lot of the initial R/D, baseline design and critical systems already developed you still end up with a 100 Million dollar fighter (without R/D) and with more than a decade worth of development. This for essentially a 4-4.5 Gen aircraft (with a lot of US help). Now they are going to develop a 5 Gen F-35/F-22 on short notice with little problems and cost? Lets be realistic here.


Of course US involvement with the F-2 has made it into what it is today (a great attack bird). That help was needed as the experience for designing many of the systems etc didn't exist in Japan.

Well guess what, as a result of that program, it does now.


As has previously been pointed out, conceptual work has been done and published. Who are we to know if it has not been taken further than that?



[edit on 30/7/07 by kilcoo316]



posted on Jul, 30 2007 @ 10:46 AM
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Yeah I would say Japan gained a lot of experience with the F-2.

The expense of the F-2 is due largely to the Japanese government's cozy relationship with the private sector - a very incestuous relationship where it's easy for contractors to bilk the taxpayers, far easier than even in the US.

However technologically I think they're perfectly capable of developing advanced weaponry, including fighters. There is nothing inherently magical about defense systems that separates them from high end civil technology - an area where Japan is easily on a equal footing with the US and EU.

As far as putting a 4th-gen fighter into service, I don't think it's as difficult a feat as it sounds. Let's not forget that Sweden, a country with a population roughly equal to that of New York City, managed to get the Grippen into squadron service ahead of both the Rafale and the Typhoon.

But Sweden, unlike Japan (or for that matter the US or EU) has a relationship between government and industry that is notable for it's efficiency and lack of corruption.

If Japan could streamline it's procurement process and get it's contractors under control, they are perfectly capable of building & deploying some very advanced hardware. But the combination of a weak government sector and a strong corporate sector makes this unlikely.



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