Japan has announced the beginning of a new fighter jet program, in an attempt to reinvigorate the nation’s atrophied defense industry.
Japan’s defense industry dwindled in the decades after World War II, after being forbidden by terms of surrender to maintain an active military. In the void left behind Japan founded the Japanese Self Defense Force, originally as a police reserve. However in the 90s the United Nations approved JSDF participation in humanitarian missions and Japan has taken an active role in peacekeeping since.
Now Nikkei Asian Review reports Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is the most likely recipient of the new fighter jet contract. Other Japanese companies are likely to be involved, as a massive project like a fighter jet can easily involve hundreds of companies in the manufacture and design of a fighter jet’s many parts and systems.
A diagram on Nikkei Asian Review shows how the fuselages, weapons systems, ballistics, landing gear, and other pieces can all be handled by different companies.
Companies like Kawasaki Heavy and Subaru will still have a role to play, in spite of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries receiving the contract. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will also be subcontracting and collaborating with US based companies while designing the new fighter jet.
Despite Japan’s diminished military, engineering and tech companies like Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have remained active in defense contracting. In recent years, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has also been tasked with designing new tanks. However, despite the company’s involvement in defense, the company also founded Mitsubishi Motors which it is mostly recognized for today.
Japan intends to purchase around 90 of the planes that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will design. These will in turn replace the Japanese Air Self Defense Force’s currently active F-2 jets. The Japanese Defense Ministry aims to deploy the newly designed jets by 2035.
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