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Japan’s New 6th Generation Stealth Fighter: No Help From America?

Tempest Stealth Fighter
Tempest Artist Rendition. Image Credit: Industry Handout.

Japan’s New 6th Generation Stealth Fighter – The UK Is All: In Earlier this month, we learned that Japanese-based Mitsubishi will work with the UK-based BAE Systems to develop Japan’s future F-X fighter. The goal of the program is to replace the domestically built Mitsubishi F-2 by the mid-2030s, while also bolstering the Asian nation’s defense industry. Tokyo’s defense posture is changing, and the development of the F-X could help Japan enter the international arms market. 

Japan’s New 6th Generation Stealth Fighter – Developments of Necessity

Development of the F-X aircraft, also unofficially called the F-3, started after the United States opted to ban the export of the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The prohibition came as part of the 1997 Obey amendment, which was meant to safeguard advanced fifth-generation technology. Since Japan could not purchase the Raptor, it began to move forward with a program to develop a domestically built fighter for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. 

As reported by TheDrive, Japan’s air force has relied primarily on U.S.-made combat aircraft, including the F-15J Eagle and the F-35A. In 2020, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced that Lockheed Martin – maker of the F-35 – was a potential partner on the F-X program. The American aerospace giant had previously collaborated with Tokyo on the Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighter, which was based on the F-16 airframe.

That deal apparently fell apart over technology transfer issues, including upgrades. It has been suggested that the American defense contractor sought to maintain control of software and even hardware upgrades, thus limiting Japanese autonomy over the project.

That issue seems like it could have been resolved, especially considering Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Department of Defense were able to reach terms with Israel on the F-35. The Israeli’s F-35I “Adir” has a unique electronic warfare system, including sensors and countermeasures, on top of the U.S. systems. Additional changes include an Israeli Air Force-tailored helmet-mounted display, bespoke datalink functionality that is specific to the Israel Defense Forces, and other enhancements that further improve the F-35’s already potent data gathering and processing capabilities.

Japan’s New 6th Generation Stealth Fighter – A U.S. Loss is the UK’s Win

Now it seems the Japanese government might look to the British for the next-generation aircraft. 

The cooperation will not be limited to the F-X – Tokyo and London have announced plans to collaborate on engine parts. As TheDrive reported, the British Ministry of Defense also aims to support Japan’s Joint New Air-to-Air Missile program. That weapon is expected to combine a Japanese-developed advanced radio frequency seeker with British expertise relating to the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile.

The United Kingdom and Japan have further agreed to collaborate on sensor technologies for the sixth-generation Tempest fighter and F-X future combat aircraft programs. They have also agreed to work together on the Japan and Great Britain Universal Advanced RF system – or JAGUAR – which is a universal radio-frequency sensor technology.

Clearly, the loss for the U.S. is a gain for the UK. The FX, meanwhile, could allow Japan to catch up and perhaps even counter Russian and Chinese stealth aircraft programs.

 Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. Michael Byrd killed a right wing terrorist slut

    May 23, 2022 at 5:40 pm

    What? It looks like the Turkey-35 isn’t up the to job of holding off China.
    *bring up a wiki of slow speed, maneuverability and flight ceiling*.
    Nope it is not. Maybe they can buy some Gripens as a stopgap fighter. *shrug solders*

    • Marcus fountain

      May 24, 2022 at 8:53 am

      I’m glad one monkey don’t stop the show, The UK & Japan together won’t have a problem out engineering the F-35 or anyone else’s version of 5+ 6 gen. Flying platforms. Hell if i were them I’d skip straight to a autonomous vechicals it’s almost time to phase out man in this arena anyway. And since we cost so much to do business with and pick and choose who gets what two great allies giving the middle finger and moving on for good.

      • Michael Byrd killed a right wing terrorist slut

        May 24, 2022 at 10:35 am

        About those “autonomous vehicles”.
        The Navy UCLASS was canned because the USAF whined about than stabbed them in the back when by asking for the XQ-58. Knowing the coke sniffing flyboys, they’ll can that program for something worse. It’s also far too slow to keep up Mach 2+ fighter or loiter like the A-10.
        The Turkey-35 and XQ-58s are too slow to keep up to F-15s with IRST, EJG Typhoons & F-22s. Unlike the former, China is actually working on planes to counter them in both BVR and dog fighting. If you can take those down, the Turkey-35 and slow drones are no threat.

        The problem is that the USAF has been wrong about Aerial warfare going back to Vietnam. Where the Century Series got their butts kicked by MIGs that they had to buy a Navy plane.

  2. Watcherzero

    May 23, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    The difference with the F-35I is Israel has a bespoke Operating System to use its modifications that has no aftermarket support, it will not receive software updates developed in concert with the other F-35 partners which provide patches and new features like additional weapon compatibility, Israel will have to develop any software upgrades it wants itself. The F-35I cannot interface with the Autonomic Logistics Information System which provides aircraft self diagnostics and automatically orders spare parts, unlike all the other F-35 sold around the world.

    • Michael Byrd killed a right wing terrorist slut

      May 24, 2022 at 10:46 am

      The Autonomic Logistics Information System is a stinker that hampers software updates and maintenance. ALIS is the product of backwards flyboy thinking and barely works at the best of times. So its little wonder that Israel was allowed to update the F-35I on their own. If the Turkey will become a decent plane. The MBA doing lines in their office flyboys would be looking to fix it, but they won’t

  3. Patrico

    May 24, 2022 at 7:29 am

    A ma lecture de cet article, et à mon niveau, je comprend que les Japonais veulent créer et construire un Jet Figther sans les US qui les verrouillent. Ils se tournent tout naturellement vers les GB !
    Les Japonais fantastiques créateurs et developpeurs Industriels ! avec les Anglais extrèmement avancés en industrie Aéronautique et bien sûr Aérodynamique de pointe! Les Italiens en renforts et cela devra aboutir. Mais les US ne perdrons rien de tous ces développements !
    Pour les Israéliens ce me paraît clairement autres choses , ils achètent du matos sur étagères Mais développent et protègent comme personnes tous ce qui est sensibles voir ultra sensible ! Et je, on peu les comprendre, chez eux la sécurité, et la défense est leurs protections de vies, normal. Beaucoup de pays roulent , pardon volent, à côté de la piste et s en rendent comptent avec l actualité. Merci Thank you merci a Tous !

  4. Christine Swong

    May 24, 2022 at 10:54 am

    Will the world take note if Germany builds up its weaponry arsenal in the name of containing Russia? So why is Japan, the most aggressive nation in Asia is encouraged to build up its arsenal in the name of containing China? Don’t forget, Japan attacked China in 1894 – not the other way around.

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