Japan’s X-2 “Shinshin” indigenous stealth jet makes first flight

The first Japanese stealth jet made its maiden flight.

The first prototype of  the indigenous stealth war plane that Japan Air Self-Defense Force will operate in the air defense role, replacing the ageing Mitsubishi F-2, made its first flight on Apr. 22 from Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works airport, part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries facilities.

Previously designated Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X), the X-2, serialled 51-0001, is developed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI), the agency that has been working on the “Shinshin” (“spirit of the heart,” an early codename within the Japan Self Defense Force) for research purposes for more than a decade.

For the moment, it is painted in the red and white colors of Japan (to be probably replaced by a far more advanced grey RAM – radar absorbing material – coating), features canted vertical tails (with a steeper angle than the F-15 Silent Eagle), a bubble canopy that is meant to provide the pilot with a good frontal visibility, and twin-engine design with the thrust vectoring paddles on the exhausts (reminding what seen on the NASA X-31 and F-18 HARV) to increase the aircraft maneuverability (do you remember the F-22 Raptor?).

Image credit: Japan MoD


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. it looks more like an advanced trainer from the Nineties than a 2016 modern strike fighter . The way to a full production strike fighter is still very long.

    • What gave you the impression that the F-3 (which will derive from the ATD-X) will be a strike fighter? To the best of my knowledge the F-3 will be focused on air to air combat, not air to ground.

  2. Not sure whether ‘prototype’ is the right word to use – technically speaking it’s a demonstrator. The final craft, if the Japanese government chooses to continue with the program, will be a fair bit larger than this one.

    • Yes the final photoype like what our F-35 should be two engines instead of one and with
      more range Using the YF-23 blended stealth design. Stealth has been around
      since the Horten Borthers and the Japanese interpretation will be interesting.
      I saw one photo of a full size mockup and thats it weather their up to full
      airframe tests with the systems on the current aircraft is another story.

  3. My congratulations to the team at TRDI and Mitsubishi for the first successful flight of the X-2 stealth technical demonstrator aircraft. This caps carefully orchestrated static ground testing of flight systems and engines, ground taxi testing in pre-flight and flight configurations, and now a first flight.

    This is the first truly indigenous fighter design to come out of Japan in many years and it’s full of interesting technology including the XF5-1 low bypass turbofan engines that provide 3D thrust vectoring via serrated moving paddles integrated with the various control surfaces.

    Overall this is a fascinating new fighter design that’s worth some careful watching in the future.

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