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Hello!, I would like to introduce the prototype of the F-2A, the XF-2A!
The FS-X later called XF-2A origins can be traced back to the early 1980’s and the highly secretive Laboratory Three division of Japan’s Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI). There, studies were being carried out to investigate the options for an indigenous design, combining long range with maneuverability, to meet the particular requirements of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). In 1987, the JASDF selected a variant of the F-16C as the Japanese FS-X aircraft to replace the Mitsubishi F-1 aircraft, and in 1988 Mitsubishi was selected as prime contractor for the aircraft, which became known as the F-2. The program involved technology transfer from the USA to Japan, and responsibility for cost sharing was split 60% by Japan and 40% by the USA. Four flying prototypes were developed, along with two static prototypes for static testing and fatigue tests. Flight trials of the prototypes were successfully completed by 1997, the prototypes continue to exist to this day serving as test aircraft for new technology’s and weapons. This suggestion focuses on the prototypes before officially entering service in 2000 that includes weapons and systems
Originally, the XF-2A was to have had a pair of large canards surfaces underneath the air intake, much like those tested on the F-16 CCV and AFTI F-16. However, these were deleted from the design on December 11, 1991, reducing it’s weight and aerodynamic drag.The XF-2A is quite similar in appearance to the F-16C/D, but features a new Japanese-designed wing of greater span and root chord. The wingspan is 36 feet 0 inches, as compared with 32 feet 9 3/8 inches for the standard F-16C. The new wing has 25 percent more area and makes extensive use of co-cured composite technology to cut down on the weight and to reduce the radar signature, The structures of the XF-2 were based on the F-16, however, structural design of the XF-2 became an essentially new design, because of the change of structural materials such as high-strength composite materials. The drastic weight reduction of the XF-2 air frame was required to meet the high maneuverability 9G to –3G requirements… Other FSX structural-design changes include radar-absorbent material (RAM) applied to the aircraft’s nose, wing leading-edges and engine inlet, the use of titanium in the tail and fuselage.
The primary difference between the XF-2A and the F-16 is in the use of Japanese domestic technology for much of the avionics, including a new Mitsubishi Electric active phased-array radar called J/APG-1, a Yokogawa LCD multi-function display, a Shimadzu holographic display and Mitsubishi Electric integrated electronic warfare system, plus an indigenous inertial reference system and mission computer.
Japan was also forced to develop its own fly-by-wire software because of the US Government’s refusal to release the F-16s computer source codes. The XF-2A software is based on MHI’s control-configured vehicle (CCV) research program flown in the early 1980’s using a modified Mitsubishi T-2 trainer.
Length: 15.52 m (50 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 11.125 m (36 ft 6 in) over missile launchers
10.8 m (35 ft) without missile launchers
Wing area: 34.84 m2 (375.0 sq ft)
Aspect ratio: 3.3
Empty weight: 9,527 kg (21,003 lb)
Gross weight: 13,459 kg (29,672 lb) clean
Max takeoff weight: 22,100 kg (48,722 lb)
Maximum landing weight: 18,300 kg (40,300 lb)
Fuel capacity: 4,637 l (1,225 US gal; 1,020 imp gal) maximum internal fuel 4,588 l (1,212 US gal; 1,009 imp gal)
Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F110-IHI-129 afterburning turbofan, 76 kN (17,000 lbf) thrust dry, 131 kN (29,500 lbf) with afterburner
Maximum speed: 2,124 km/h (1,320 mph, 1,147 kn)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.0 at high altitude, Mach 1.1 at low altitude
Combat range: 833 km (518 mi, 450 nmi) +
Service ceiling: 18,000 m (59,000 ft)
Wing loading: 634.3 kg/m2 (129.9 lb/sq ft) maximum
- 20 mm M61 cannon: 511 rounds
- Mitsubishi AAM-3
- AIM-9L Sidewinder
- AIM-7F/M Sparrow
Now that the F-16AJ has become Japans first gen 4 fighter, the XF-2A can be the next step in the line. Compared to early production F-2s it will lack JDAMS, J/AAQ-2 flir/nav pod etc. Because of that this aircraft can also fit well as a squadron or event aircraft or perhaps even a far future gen 4 premium.
As I mentioned in my short history section this aircraft continues to fly to this day serving as a test aircraft, meaning the aircraft has future proofing if needed for balance.