Work started on March 28 on a prototype of the nation's next-generation fighter jet, which will be produced entirely in Japan.
The project, ordered by the Defense Ministry, is being carried out at a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. plant in Aichi Prefecture.
Mitsubishi Heavy is producing the fuselage and is in charge of overall assembly. IHI Corp. is building the engine, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. is manufacturing the wings, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. is responsible for cockpit equipment.
The Defense Ministry plans to have the prototype, equipped with stealth and other state-of-the-art technologies, airborne in 2014.
“Our ultimate goal is to build a fighter made entirely in Japan,” Takashi Kobayashi, general manager of Mitsubishi’s Aerospace Systems operational headquarters, said at the opening ceremony. “This is the first step on the rough road.”
Japan is competing with neighboring China and Russia, which are pushing the development of their next-generation fighters.
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