Not your grandfather's Mitsubishi...
The words "Mitsubishi fighter" still have the power to send a chill down the spines of American war history buffs. It was, after all, just 65 years ago that the Mitsubishi A6M "Zero" ruled the skies over the Pacific by outclassing the vast majority of Allied WW2 fighter planes sent to oppose it. (above drawing by J. P. Santiago)
...but gramps sure would be proud!
Now it seems that a descendant of the legendary Zero fighter may soon be stretching its wings across the skies of Japan - and perhaps further afield. Alarmed by new developments in stealth fighter aircraft technology displayed by traditional adversaries China and Russia, JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defense Forces) planners have been attempting to acquire the American F-22 Raptor jet fighter to replace their current F-15 Eagle fighter planes.
The F-22 Raptor is packed with the latest avionics and stealth technology but its high tech features have the Pentagon concerned about security leaks.
Stealthy, speedy and made in Japan
Even though the United States would lose out financially by not selling Japan the F-22, security issues are front & center these days and Japan is now looking to its own aircraft designers to provide a home-grown solution.
If the history of Japan is any guide, we can expect a more than respectable match for the F-22, F-19 or other state of the art jet fighters to eventually roll off the Mitsubishi production lines.
"Son of Zero", resplendent in carbon fiber
The process may already be in motion - on August 9, the above photo was taken of what may be Japan's next-generation stealth fighter jet. The 46 foot long carbon fiber mock-up was designed and built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, builder of the Zero and many other WW2 fighter planes, at their Komakiminami Factory in Aichi prefecture.
Freshly returned from France where it had undergone testing of its stealth technology, this sleek mock-up foreshadows what just might be the future of Japanese military aviation. (via News On Japan and newsinfo.inquirer, Zero image c/o murphybytes)
Japanese Innovations Writer