F-2 Support Fighter

The F-2 Support Fighter is a multi-role, single-engine fighter aircraft produced for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). It was jointly developed in the mid- to late 1980s and jointly produced in the early 1990s by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI, Japan’s prime contractor), Lockheed Martin Aeronautics (principal U.S. subcontractor to MHI), and other Japanese and U.S. industries. The program remains a hallmark of trust, technology transfer and workshare between Japan and the U.S.

Based on the design of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon, the F-2 is capable of both air-to-air and air-to-surface roles though it is optimized for the latter role, to protect Japan’s sea lanes. Many of the aircraft’s innovative systems, including the fly-by-wire flight control system and integrated electronic warfare system, were developed in Japan. The F-2 was also the first production fighter to be equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. In 2015, the F-2 became the eighth aircraft platform to be equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Sniper® Advanced Targeting Pod.

The F-2 has a wing area that is enlarged approximately 25 percent over the F-16 wing area. The larger wing allows more internal fuel storage and two more weapon store stations than the F-16. Japan elected to fabricate the wing substructure using graphite epoxy and by applying state-of-the-art co-cured composite technology to maximize the strength while minimizing the weight. In addition to the larger wing area, the F-2 fuselage is approximately 17 inches longer than that of the F-16. The horizontal tails are also larger.

Significant hallmarks of the program are the technology transfer and workshare between Japan and the United States. Japan is responsible for producing approximately 60 percent of the aircraft, and the United States is responsible for producing approximately 40 percent.

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