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Japan to Decide Next Fighter Maker

Japan's Ministry of Defence will partner with only one Japanese company to lead the development of next-generation fighter planes, according to Nikkei Daily. Previous fighters were imported from the U.S. or manufactured by Japanese companies under US license.

The selected company will develop and manufacture a replacement for the current F-2 jets as they will be decommissioned around 2035.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Subaru and IHI will be competing for the program. The budget will be allocated in the fiscal year ending March 2022, and a test plane will be produced in 2024.

The total budget is estimated at over $47 billion, resulting in about 90 new stealth fighter jets covering sea, land and air theatres.

The Japanese ministry will call for participants from August and will decide the leading company by the end of this year. A contract with the company will be signed after agreeing on the joint development with the U.S., also by the end of the year.

For Japan's next-generation fighter, Lockheed Martin had proposed a hybrid of the F-22 and the F-35. The plan was nixed as Japan pursues an alternative developed on its own.

The Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin is being developed by the Japanese Ministry of Defence Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) for research purposes. The main contractor of the project is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The aircraft is widely known in Japan as Shinshin. The aircraft's first flight was on 22 April 2016.

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