May 8, 2018

US Losing Alliances - Japan Paying to Reinvent the F-22

wispywood2344 has provided diagrams for the XF9-1 jet engine under development for Japan's future stealth air superiority fighter F-3, including sideview XF9-1 jet engine (above) and 
the engine's XVN3-1 thrust vectoring in pitch-axis nozzle (below).

Drawing from wispywood2344's comments and Pete's own ideas:

After the US rejected the friendly alliance measure of exporting the F-22 stealth air superiority fighter to all countries (notably Japan and Australia) countries have reacted in different ways. Japanese strategy may be to:

1.  spend (or grudgingly waste) a large amount of money on developing (or reinventing a F-22 clone)
     indigenous F-3 or multinational
 stealth air superiority fighter. This is a similar situation to the
     special US nuclear assitance to the UK Agreement (1958) - but now isolationist America 
     downgrades alliances, despite the China threat...or 

2.  Japan discusses buying 25 extra 25 F-35As on top of the 42 F-35A Japan is already buying. Also
     Japan might buy some F-35B carrier jump-jet aircraft purchases. Such extra money may entice 
     Lockheed Martin to be more cooperative in assisting the future F-3 or joint fighter project. 


Probably the most difficult aspect after full stealth integration is achieving the ability to supercruise (especially over Mach 1.5). That is remain supersonic without highly infra-red obvious afterburners. Fighters with supercruise capability include F-22, Typhoons, Gripens, Rafales and possible Su-35s (see list). Supercruise also means longer range because the high fuel use afterburner(s) are not used. 

Significantly the F-35 is too underpowered to truly supercruise. The F-35 is considerably heavier (ie. poorer power to weight ratio) than single engine lightweight fighters (especially the F-16) that it replaces.

China has not yet developed its WS-15 supercruise engine for its J-20 and WS-13 for its J-31 stealth aircraft projects.

The Japanese Air Force is proceeding with the deployment of F-35A as a successor to F-4 Phantoms scheduled to completely retire by around 2020.

Apart from this, since the retirement of the Mitsubishi F-2 (F-16 derivative) is scheduled to begin around 2030, the Japanese Ministry of Defense has conducted research and technology development on a future Mitsubishi "F-3" stealthy air superiority fighter as a successor.

If Japan's pays Lockheed Martin enough maybe much F-22 intellectual property and assistance can find its way to the F-3 - probably in about 2033. (Graphics courtesy Pakistan Defence)

As part of  "F-3" technology development, production and testing of Japanese supercruise engines are in progress, with a prototype "XF9-1" due to be completed around mid 2018.[1]

The XF9-1 has been developed since 2008 with the aim to supercruise at thrust, speed and distances similar to the US F-22's F119 engine. See [2].

[2]  text and graphics on advanced XF9-1 jet engine


wispywood2344 indicates the Japanese Ministry of Defense wishes future performance for the indigenously built XF 9-1, at sea level, can be nearly equivalent to the F-22's F 119 engine, ie:

XF 9-1
-  Maximum wet thrust (with afterburner) >147 kN each and
-  Maximum dry thrust >108 kN each.

In comparison the F-22's 2 × Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100
Maximum wet thrust (afterburner) : >156 kN each
Maximum dry thrust: 116 kN each

F-22 and F-3 performance:
Maximum supercruise: Mach 1.82. 
Range: 2,900 km 
Combat radius: 800 km 

In any case the corporate-political power of Lockheed Martin (LM) will pressure the US government and other countries to buy all the LM built  F-35s possible in the 2020s. Then, in the late 2020s, LM will re-establish production lines for the F-22s countries really wanted - rather than the underpowered F-35. That is production of high spec US F-22s and low spec export F-22s to maximise US strategic market power. 

Maybe by then, the attractions of Chinese competition will be too much for America's LM directed foreign export policies... 

wispywood2344 and Pete


Tri-ring said...

Looks as if someone is missing the entire picture.
F-3 is not intended to be a F-22 look-a-like.
The FX-9 engine will be smaller in diameter and length compared to the F-119 making it 35% smaller in mass with resulting to a massive reduction in weight.
Before being dismantled into a new organization Technical Research and Development Institute floated the idea of the i3 Fighter concept and were doing various research.

They were successful in developing the smart skin flexible radar system;

They were also doing research on crowd shooting via communication link where any plane's missile can be guided by any other plane illuminator within the crowd.

And of course Flight by light which is already in use on the P-1.

Josh said...


Supercruise isn't specifically a stealth feature as much as it is a range/fuel feature. IRST detection isn't a major issue compared to RCS, particularly in a head on engagement. It is worth noting that supercruise has a lot to do with aerodynamics, not just engine technology. The F-104 could maintain supersonic speeds at less than afterburner (but needed afterburner to get there). I believe Typhoon also is capable of ~mach 1.5 at full power. F-35 suffers primarily from it's poor area rule air frame, due to the USMC's program requirements - both in terms of the lift fan for STOVL but even more so the smaller aircraft elevators on amphibious ships. This put an absolute limit on length that led to a chubby aircraft in order to still meet the range requirements of the USAF/USN. It's worth noting that the F-22 also lacks variable inlet ramps as a stealth feature and it's low altitude performance suffers - it is an uncompromising interceptor design more akin to an F-106 or MiG-31 than a generic 'fighter', even the F-15 which was ultimately adapted to the low level interdiction role.


Anonymous said...

The balance of air power over the Western Pacific and that includes the air space within the first island chain is no longer tilting towards China, it is already shifting to China. I do not see Japan nor Australia be able to cope with that shift.

First is the issue of quantity. China is producing in large number 4th generation of fighters, J-10C, J11, J-15, J-16. And it is ramping up stealth production, J-20. Beyond, we can see the J-31 clearly improving with each iteration.

Second China is also gaining the advantages with reach with their active PL-15. Already even the AIM-120D is outclassed. Yet we can see that even AWACs and tankers will not be safe since China is flight testing its 300-400km class AAM that looks similar to the Novator K-100/KS-172. Yes, the USAF is working on longer range AAM, but we should point out that the PL-15 is now not in some distant future. Japan's AAM-4 is hopeless.

Third, China is improving its air to air refueling capabilities. AVIC is now flight testing an air tanker variant of their Y-20 transport with a fixed boom.

Facing these threats, Japan has a fleet of old F-15 and even fewer F-2 (after the tsunami wiped out a dozen of them). I do not see 70 F-35 shifting that balance of power.

At the same time, let's be frank. The US is shifting its focus away from Asia (the US staying power is always a question mark). With the new 2nd fleet and a renewed focus on the northern Atlantic, the US is already saying I am conceding the Western Pacific to China. Today, the US no longer have the financial means to fight on 2 fronts. The big difference between 1989 and 2018 is in 1989, the Soviets had no money first, in 2018 China has massive reserves, the US has the printing press.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

Yes these are all complicated matters - even more so when the presence or absence of EA-18G Growler EW aircraft (creating covering "noise" to obscure F-35s) are factored in. Is Japan getting any EA-18Gs?

Also Chinese satellite sensors may (if the satellite(s) are just east of Japan) have an opportunity to detect infrared signatures of scrambled Japanese jets. Especially if the jets (with or without afterburners) are on a mission to the East China Sea.