Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ experimental fifth-generation fighter technology demonstrator X-2 “Shinshin” (formerly the ATD-X) took to the skies for the first time. Th 5th generation stealth fighter jet's 25 min maiden flight from Nagoya saw it reach an altitude of 12,000 ft and a top speed of 200 kt (370 km/h), says Hirofumi Doi, manager of Japan’s Future Fighter Program. Post-flight feedback from the pilot indicates that the X-2 performed as expected, he said that it will be a great airplane to fly. The timing of the second sortie depends on weather conditions. During this flight, the aircraft will retract its landing gear and accelerate to higher speeds.
Powered by two IHI XF5-1 low-bypass engines equipped with afterburners, the aircraft is small by fighter standards, with a length of 14.2 m (46.5 ft) and a wingspan of 9.1 m. Despite its diminutive size, the X-2 is a key component of a larger effort Japan has made since the 1990s to explore technologies necessary for stealthy fifth- or sixth-generation aircraft. The effort comprises 15 separate programmes, of which the X-2 itself is the most significant. These are investigating specific technologies such as weapons bays, sensors, data links, and other areas deemed necessary for advanced fighter aircraft.
The planned test campaign for the X-2 is expected to last one year, during which it will probably operate 50 flights. These sorties will help ATLA gather data on advanced fighter technologies such as stealth characteristics and thrust vectoring. After the United States, China, and Russia, Japan became the fourth nation to test-fly an indigenously-developed stealth aircraft.
The Fifth Generation Fighter is the current standard naming convention for “next-generation” fighter aircraft. The aircraft considered for the title features all-aspect stealth even when armed, Low Probability of Intercept Radar (LPIR), high-performance air frames, advanced avionics features, and highly integrated computer systems capable of networking with other elements within the theatre of war for situational awareness.