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Prototype Japanese stealth fighter makes maiden flight

A Japanese-made stealth jet prototype has completed its maiden flight.

By Richard Tomkins
Prototype Japanese stealth fighter makes maiden flight
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' X-2 stealth fighter prototype. Photo: Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

TOKYO, April 22 (UPI) -- A stealth fighter by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries conducted its maiden flight Friday in Japan.

The X-2 prototype took off from Nagoya Airport and went through a series of trials to confirm basic maneuvers -- including climbing, descent and circling operations – before terminating the 23-minute flight at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's Gifu Air Base, the company said.

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"Control of the aircraft went exactly as in our simulated training sessions," said the unidentified pilot, "and after piloting the aircraft I'm 100 percent positive the X-2 is magnificent and will meet the Ministry of Defense's requirements."

The X-2 integrates an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment that is adaptable to future fighters. It is also the first stealth aircraft produced in Japan.

MHI has been developing the aircraft's airframe since 2009 with guidance from Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency and with the cooperation of 220 domestic companies.

"The maiden flight was significant to secure the necessary capability for a next-generation fighter jet," Defense Minister Gen Nakatani was quoted by Japan Times newspaper. "We can expect technological innovation in the aerospace industry as well as application of that technology in different fields."

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Additional details of the maiden flight were not disclosed.

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