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Japan reveals digital development plan for F-X fighter

The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) has outlined a commitment to apply digital engineering techniques and technologies in the development of the country's next-generation F-X fighter aircraft.

The MoD told Janes that the move to introduce such digital methods is part of a wider effort on the F-X programme to achieve enhancement in quality and efficiency across the design, development, production, and sustainment of the aircraft.

A conceptual image of Japan's future F-X fighter aircraft, released by the Japanese MoD. (Japanese MoD)

A conceptual image of Japan's future F-X fighter aircraft, released by the Japanese MoD. (Japanese MoD)

The MoD said the effort is also aligned with modern fighter aircraft practices in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, from companies which are expected to be involved in the development of the F-X fighter.

“Digital transformation has the potential to make a significant impact on every phase of research and development (R&D), mass production, and maintenance of defence equipment,” a spokesperson from the MoD told Janes.

The spokesperson added that both the MoD and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) “recognise the importance of a deep understanding” about digital engineering, and are working to integrate such capabilities with the aim to be able to “efficiently acquire and operate superior equipment”.

By way of example, the spokesperson pointed to the MoD's ongoing project to conduct research on applying open systems architecture (OSA) – through which systems are interoperable and connectable – to the development of onboard F-X mission systems such as fire control, navigation, communications, and electronic warfare.

“Applying OSA enables us to enhance the fighter aircraft's expandability so that future upgrades of subsystems can be made at low cost and in a short period of time without major refurbishment. We intend to apply this technology to the F-X,” the spokesperson said.

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