Mitsubishi F-2

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This article is about the modern-day multirole fighter aircraft. For the World War 2-era interceptor, see Mitsubishi J2M.
F-2
Mitsubishi F-2 landing.JPG
A Mitsubishi F-2A
Role Multirole fighter
National origin Japan, United States
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Lockheed Martin
First flight 7 October 1995
Introduction 2000
Primary user Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Produced 1995–2011
Number built 94, plus 4 prototypes[1]
Unit cost
¥12 billion yen; $127 million (constant 2009 USD)[2]
Developed from F-16 Block 52

The Mitsubishi F-2 (nickname: "Viper Zero") is a multirole fighter manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Lockheed Martin for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a 60/40 split in manufacturing between Japan and the USA. Production started in 1996 and the first aircraft entered service in 2000. The first 76 aircraft entered service in 2008, with a total of 94 airframes under contract.[1] In FY2005, Ministry of Defense changed the category from Support Fighter to Fighter.

Development[edit]

Work started in the FS-X program, initially given the company designation Mitsubishi SX-3,[3] and began in earnest with a memorandum of understanding between Japan and the United States. It would lead to a new fighter based on the General Dynamics (post 1993, Lockheed Martin) F-16 Fighting Falcon, and in particular the F-16 Agile Falcon proposal. Lockheed Martin was chosen as the major subcontractor to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and the two companies co-developed and co-produced the aircraft. Some of the early developmental works were done under General Dynamics, who sold its aircraft division to Lockheed Martin in 1993. It is essentially an execution of the F-16 Agile Falcon proposal: a late-1980s plan for an enlarged F-16 which was passed over by the U.S. in favor of an all-new fighter program (Joint Strike Fighter). The F-2 used the wing design of the F-16 Agile Falcon, but much of the electronics were further updated to 1990s standards. The overall concept of the enlarged F-16 by General Dynamics was intended as a cheap counter to the then emerging threat of the Su-27 and MiG-29.

In October 1987, Japan selected the F-16 as the basis of its new secondary fighter,[4] to replace the aging Mitsubishi F-1 and supplement its main air superiority fighter, the F-15J as well as the F-4EJ. The programme involved technology transfer from the USA to Japan, and responsibility for cost sharing was split 60% by Japan and 40% by USA.[5]

Mitsubishi AAM-4 air-to-air missile

The F-2 program was controversial, because the unit cost, which includes development costs, is roughly four times that of a Block 50/52 F-16, which does not include development costs. Inclusion of development costs distorts the incremental unit cost (this happens with most modern military aircraft), though even at the planned procurement levels, the price per aircraft was somewhat high. The initial plan of 141 F-2s would have reduced the unit cost by up to US$10 million per unit, not including reduced cost from mass production. As of 2008, 94 aircraft were planned.[1] Also controversial is the amounts claimed to be paid to American side as various licensing fees, although making use of the pre-existing technology was much cheaper than trying to develop it from scratch.

The F-2's maiden flight was on 7 October 1995. Later that year, the Japanese government approved an order for 141 (but that was soon cut to 130), to enter service by 1999; structural problems resulted in service entry being delayed until 2000. Because of issues with cost-efficiency, orders for the aircraft were curtailed to 98 (including four prototypes) in 2004.

The last of 94 production aircraft ordered under contract was delivered to the Defense Ministry on 27 September 2011.[6] During the roll-out ceremony of the last production F-2 fighter jet, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries confirmed that production of the F-2 would end and no more F-2 fighters will be produced by the manufacturer.[7]

Design[edit]

General Electric (engine), Kawasaki, Honeywell, Raytheon, NEC, Hazeltine, and Kokusai Electric are among the other larger participants to varying degrees. Lockheed Martin supplies the aft fuselage, leading-edge slats, stores management system, a large portion of wing boxes (as part of two-way technology transfer agreements),[8] and other components.[9] Kawasaki builds the midsection of the fuselage, as well as the doors to the main wheel and the engine,[5] while forward fuselage and wings are built by Mitsubishi.[5] Avionics are supplied by Lockheed Martin, and the digital fly-by-wire system has been jointly developed by Japan Aviation Electric and Honeywell (formerly Allied Signal).[5] Contractors for communication systems and IFF interrogators include Raytheon, NEC, Hazeltine, and Kokusai Electric.[5] Final assembly is done in Japan, by MHI at its Komaki-South facility in Nagoya.

Larger wings give better payload and maneuverability, but also tend to add weight to the airframe in various ways. More weight can have negative effects on acceleration, climbing, payload, and range. To make the larger wings lighter the skin, spars, ribs and cap of the wings were made from graphite-epoxy composite and co-cured in an autoclave. This was the first application of co-cured technology to a production tactical fighter.[10] This technology for the wings encountered some teething problems, but proved to be a leading-edge use of a technology that provides weight savings, improved range, and some stealth benefits. This technology was then transferred back to America, as part of the program’s industrial partnership.[11]

The F-2 has three display screens, including a liquid crystal display from Yokogawa.

F-2 planform compared to F-16

Some differences in the F-2 from the F-16A:

Also, the F-2 is equipped with a drogue parachute, like the version of the F-16 used by Pakistan, Netherlands, Norway, Greece, Turkey, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

Operational history[edit]

On 7 February 2013, two Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27 fighters briefly entered Japanese airspace off Rishiri Island near Hokkaido, flying south over the Sea of Japan before turning back to the north.[12] Four F-2 fighters were scrambled to visually confirm the Russian planes,[13] warning them by radio to leave their airspace.[14] A photo taken by a JASDF pilot of one of the two Su-27s was released by the Japan Ministry of Defense.[15] Russia denied the incursion, saying the jets were making routine flights near the disputed Kuril Islands.[12]

On 22 August, 2013, two Russian Air Force Tupolev Tu-95 bombers entered Japanese airspace near the major southern island of Kyushu for less than 2 minutes. F-2 fighters were scrambled in response.[16]

Variants[edit]

  • XF-2A: Single-seat prototypes.
  • XF-2B: Two-seat prototypes.
  • F-2A: Single-seat fighter version.
  • F-2B: Two-seat training version.

Operators[edit]

 Japan
Air Defense Command
  • Northern Air Defense Force
    • 3rd Air Wing, Misawa Air Base
      • 3rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
      • 8th Tactical Fighter Squadron
  • Western Air Defense Force
Air Training Command
Air Development and Test Command

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 31 October 2007, an F-2B crashed during takeoff and subsequently caught fire at Nagoya Airfield in central Japan. The jet was being taken up on a test flight by Mitsubishi employees, after major maintenance and before being delivered to the JSDF. Both test pilots survived the incident with only minor injuries.[18] It was eventually determined that improper wiring caused the crash.[19][20]
  • As a result of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, 18 F-2Bs belonging to the 21st Fighter Squadron at Matsushima Air Base were damaged or destroyed.[21][17] Of these 18, 12 were deemed beyond repair and will be scrapped. The remaining 6 F-2s will be repaired at the estimated cost of ¥80 billion.[22] In the meantime, training duties carried out by the 21st Fighter Squadron have been transferred to other air bases.

Specifications (F-2A)[edit]

Mitsubishi F-2A

Data from Wilson[23]

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

Avionics

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c "Lockheed Martin Gets $250M F-2 Contract". 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-09. [dead link]
  2. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/japan/f-2.htm
  3. ^ John W.R. Taylor, ed. (1988). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1988-89. London: Jane's Information Group. ISBN 0 7106 0867 5. 
  4. ^ Aoki 1999, p.40.
  5. ^ a b c d e http://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/f2/
  6. ^ Jiji Press, "Final F-2 fighter delivered to ASDF", Japan Times, 29 September 2011, p. 2.
  7. ^ "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries end production of F-2 fighter". AirForceWorld.com. Retrieved 1 Oct 2011. 
  8. ^ "Mitsubishi F-2 Fighter Japan Technology Transfer Agreement". AirForceWorld.com. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Lockheed Martin Press Release April 8, 2008
  10. ^ "F-2 Attack Fighter, Japan". Airforce-technology.com. Retrieved 22 Apr 2012. 
  11. ^ "Lockheed & Mitsubishi’s F-2 Fighter Partnership". Defenseindustrydaily.com. Retrieved 22 Apr 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Russian fighter jets 'breach Japan airspace', BBC News, 7 Feb 2013 
  13. ^ Japan accuses Russian jets of violating airspace, DAWN.COM, 7 Feb 2013, retrieved 9 Feb 2013 
  14. ^ Japan scrambles fighter jets as Russian warplanes intrude into airspace, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), 7 Feb 2013, retrieved 10 Feb 2013 
  15. ^ Japan says 2 Russian fighters entered its airspace, Yahoo! News, 7 Feb 2013, retrieved 9 Feb 2013 
  16. ^ Japan scrambles jets, accusing Russian bombers of intrusion. Reuters, 22 August, 2013.
  17. ^ a b http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/2011/03/earthquake-devastates-japan-f-.html
  18. ^ http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20071101a2.html Japan Times
  19. ^ http://huhcanitbetrue.blogspot.com/2008/01/f2mhi.html
  20. ^ http://www.f-16.net/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&p=112537
  21. ^ http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0312/TKY201103110818.html
  22. ^ http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201109150442.html
  23. ^ Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, Australia: Aerospace Publications, 2000. p. 106. ISBN 1-875671-50-1.
Bibliography

External links[edit]