Japanese F-22/F-35 Fighter

Anatomy of War: Japan Seeks the Latest and Greatest Fighter

It’s no secret that when Japanese President Shinzo Abe met with US President Donald Trump last week, one of the talking points was obtaining a stealth fighter that could parry anything the Chinese PLAAF or Russian Air Force could throw at it. Years ago, they had sought to obtain the F-22 Air Superiority Fighter but Congress nixed the deal, refusing to allow the F-22 to fly for anyone but the US Air Force.

With conceptual work already underway on a sixth generation fighter, however, and Lockheed-Martin’s desire to restart the F-22 assembly line, talk has surfaced that Japan wants — and may get — a 5th generation stealth fighter that combines the best attributes of both the F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Essentially, such a design, when combined with indigenous work already laid down by Japanese designers, could be fielded by the 2030s and remain a staple of the JASDF for the foreseeable future, at least until a sixth generation fighter could gain traction and financing in Japanese circles.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what a hybrid F-22/F-35 might look like, no doubt boasting a pair of high performance engines for long endurance flights while incorporating the latest in RAM coating for low observable maneuvering and advanced avionics to give it a “first look, first kill” capability, particularly important if they are faced with a more numerous adversary. Recently, the USAF created and released a video depicting what a US sixth generation fighter might look like as well as some of its capabilities, a far cry from what currently exists in their inventory. As work progresses on such an aircraft, both Congress and Lockheed-Martin are more inclined to aid the Japanese effort, while keeping the best technology still at home under the government’s scrutiny.  

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