NEWTOWN, Conn: Production of the Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft is nearing an end. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is acquiring a total of 94 production F-2s. All have been funded, and the 94th and last is scheduled to be delivered in September 2011. Without further orders, production of the aircraft will then come to a close.
Mitsubishi would like the JASDF to acquire additional F-2s to serve as replacements for the service’s F-4EJ Phantom fighters. The Phantom replacement effort is called the F-X program, and will involve the acquisition of 50 aircraft.
Japan’s first choice for the F-X requirement, however, is the Lockheed Martin F-22, though this aircraft is currently unavailable for export outside the U.S. Other aircraft under consideration include the Boeing F-15 and F/A-18E/F, the Dassault Rafale, the Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Lockheed Martin F-35.
Should the F-22 remain unavailable, the F-35 would be the likely choice for the F-X contract. Initial F-X orders appear unlikely to be placed until at least 2011.