The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the release of its latest research study, Securing the Pacific Skies: The Imperative for Expanding Japan’s Fifth-Generation Capacity, by Mitchell’s Dean Lt Gen David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), Executive Director Douglas A. Birkey, and Senior Resident Fellow Heather R. Penney.
The government of Japan will soon choose a path to develop a new fighter aircraft to replace the Japan Air Self-Defense Forces’ venerable F-2. With tensions on the rise in the Asia-Pacific region, this decision will prove consequential for decades into the future. Air superiority is an essential capability required to secure a broad range of desired effects for territorial defense.
Executing this mission in the modern era demands several key attributes, including stealth-enabled survivability and the ability to gather, process, and share information in real time. Eventually, these capabilities and attributes will play a key role in actualizing the “combat cloud” construct and will refine modern fifth-generation combat aviation. Of special concern to Japan, China has developed two fifth-generation fighters, the J-20 and J-31, and experts predict a fifth-generation bomber may soon follow. These investments threaten to alter the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific if left unchecked.
Japan requires a fifth-generation air superiority solution for its ‘Future Fighter’ in the near term that is affordable, does not involve undue technical risk, and is optimized for its own unique mission demands within the Asia-Pacific region—particularly when it comes to range.
The future security environment is far from certain in the Pacific region. What is clear is the need to invest in forward-leaning capabilities. Fifth-generation air superiority aircraft stand at the top of this list.