Mitsubishi F-2

"FS-X" redirects here. For the video game, see Microsoft Flight Simulator X.
Mitsubishi F-2A
Role Multirole fighter
National origin Japan / United States
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries /Lockheed Martin
First flight 7 October 1995
Introduction 2000
Status In service
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 General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon

The Mitsubishi F-2 is a multirole fighter derived from the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, and manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Lockheed Martin for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, with a 60/40 split in manufacturing between Japan and the United States. 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 produced. The first AESA Active electronically scanned array radar on a combat aircraft was the J/APG-1 introduced on the Mitsubishi F-2 in 1995.[2]


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. The F-2 used the wing design of the F-16 Agile Falcon, but much of the electronics were further updated to 1990s standards.

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 program involved technology transfer from the USA to Japan and vice versa. Responsibility for cost sharing was split 60% by Japan and 40% by USA.[5] Lockheed Martin would manufacture all the aft fuselages and wing leading-edge flaps and eight of the ten left-hand wingboxes.[6]

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(7,5 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. Flight testing of the four prototypes were conducted by the Japan Defense Agency at Gifu Air Field.[7]

The last of 94 production aircraft ordered under contract was delivered to the Defense Ministry on 27 September 2011.[8] 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.[9] As of 2014 there are 61 single-seaters flying, and 21 two-seat trainers.[10]


General Electric, Kawasaki, Honeywell, Raytheon, NEC, Hazeltine, and Kokusai Electric are among the primary component sub-contractors. Lockheed Martin supplies the aft fuselage, leading-edge slats, stores management system, a large portion of wingboxes (as part of two-way technology transfer agreements),[11] and other components.[12] 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 in proportion of its thrust, 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.[5] 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.[13]

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

F-2 and F-16 compared

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 South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Greece, Turkey, Indonesia, Taiwan, and Venezuela.

Operational history

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.[14] Four F-2 fighters were scrambled to visually confirm the Russian planes,[15] warning them by radio to leave their airspace.[16] A photo taken by a JASDF pilot of one of the two Su-27s was released by the Japan Ministry of Defense.[17] Russia denied the incursion, saying the jets were making routine flights near the disputed Kuril Islands.[14]

On 22 August 2013, two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 Bear-F maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) entered Japanese airspace near the major southern island of Kyushu for less than 2 minutes. F-2 fighters were scrambled in response.[18]


F-2 taxiing during an exercise for Cope North


Air Defense Command
Air Training Command
Air Development and Test Command

Accidents and incidents

Specifications (F-2A)

Mitsubishi F-2A
Mitsubishi AAM-4 air-to-air missile

Data from Wilson[25]

General characteristics




See also

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



  1. 1 2 "Lockheed Martin Gets $250M F-2 Contract". 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  2. 1 2 John Pike. "F-2 Support Fighter / FSX". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  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. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "F-2 Attack Fighter, Japan". Retrieved 22 Apr 2012.
  6. Breen, Tom (21 October 1996). "Lockheed Martin starts beefing up work force for Japan's F-2". Defense Daily. Retrieved 27 May 2015 via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)).
  7. "Lockheed Martin continues work for Japan's F-2 fighter". Defense Daily. 23 April 1998. Retrieved 28 May 2015 via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)).
  8. Jiji Press, "Final F-2 fighter delivered to ASDF", Japan Times, 29 September 2011, p. 2.
  9. "Mitsubishi Heavy Industries end production of F-2 fighter". Retrieved 1 Oct 2011.
  10. Hoyle, Craig (24 October 2014), "Big in Japan: Tokyo's Top 10 aircraft projects", Flightglobal, Reed Business Information
  11. "Mitsubishi F-2 Fighter Japan Technology Transfer Agreement". Retrieved 1 July 2011.
  12. Lockheed Martin Press Release April 8, 2008
  13. "Lockheed & Mitsubishi's F-2 Fighter Partnership". Retrieved 22 Apr 2012.
  14. 1 2 Russian fighter jets 'breach Japan airspace', BBC News, 7 Feb 2013
  15. Japan accuses Russian jets of violating airspace, DAWN.COM, 7 Feb 2013, retrieved 9 Feb 2013
  16. Japan scrambles fighter jets as Russian warplanes intrude into airspace, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), 7 Feb 2013, retrieved 10 Feb 2013
  17. Japan says 2 Russian fighters entered its airspace, Yahoo! News, 7 Feb 2013, retrieved 9 Feb 2013
  18. Japan scrambles jets, accusing Russian bombers of intrusion. Reuters, 22 August 2013.
  19. 1 2 "About the Flightglobal Group - Blogs Announcement -". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  20. Japan Times
  21. "そうなのかな". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  22. "JASDF F-2 Update - General F-16 forum". Retrieved 1 February 2016.
  25. Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, Australia: Aerospace Publications, 2000. p. 106. ISBN 1-875671-50-1.


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