FX Godzilla: Japan's 6th Generation Fighter Project

After scrapping the creation of an all-own fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, the Mitsubishi X-2, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is eyeing the development of a sixth-generation fighter. For this new objective, they are not alone, counting on the cooperation of global partners.

The Mitsubishi FX: The Future of Japanese combat aviation

In November 2017, the Japan Ministry of Defense’s Agency for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (ATLA) closed the Mitsubishi X-2 program after 34 flights, acknowledging that Japan required international collaboration to develop a stealth fighter.

FX Godzilla: Japan's 6th Generation Fighter Project

In response to a growing defensive need in the face of tension with China and North Korea, Japan has purchased 147 units of the F-35 Lightning II, becoming the largest global buyer of the controversial Lockheed Martin fighter.

It is important to clarify that the Mitsubishi X-2 should not be confused with the experimental Bell X-2 Starburster aircraft created in the United States in the 1940s.

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From a fifth-generation fighter to the sixth: In collaboration with whom?

If the JASDF has opted for a US-sourced fifth-generation fighter, can we assume that the United States will be the partner for the FX, the sixth-generation fighter? Turns out not necessarily.

FX Godzilla: Japan's 6th Generation Fighter Project

On December 9, 2022, the Prime Ministers of Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy announced their new Global Combat Air Program (GCAP) to produce a sixth-generation fighter by 2035. This project will unify future combat aircraft programs FX and Tempest.

But why Italy and the UK and not the US? In an article for The Diplomat in December 2022, Takahashi Kosuke explained the five main reasons.

Why is Japan allied with Italy and the United Kingdom?

According to Kosuke, the first reason lies in the choice of BAE Systems of the UK as a cooperating partner instead of Lockheed Martin due to the fact that the development times of the FX and Tempest programs coincided.

Second, all three nations have similar tactical requirements for the future fighter, focusing on maintaining their air superiority.

Third, the countries share a strategic need to avoid dependence on the United States for defense technology, thus seeking to diversify their alliances.

The fourth reason is that the three countries seek a balance in the contribution and benefit of the project. Each country is expected to contribute its own technology and skills, ensuring equity in sharing the benefits generated by the program.

Finally, Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom are interested in promoting and maintaining a competitive defense market worldwide, seeking to avoid a technological monopoly in the sector.

The Genesis of “Godzilla”: an aviation giant

FX Godzilla: Japan's 6th Generation Fighter Project

The vision that Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom have for the FX, nicknamed “Godzilla”, is that of an aviation giant that dominates the skies. This sixth-generation fighter will represent a milestone in defense technology and is the fruit of unprecedented international cooperation.

The development of the FX implies not only the achievement of air superiority but also the manifestation of a geopolitical and defense strategy aimed at establishing equity in the distribution of benefits and maintaining a competitive defense market at a global level.

The efforts to make “Godzilla” a reality are a testament to the determination of these countries to maintain their security and sovereignty in a global context of increasing uncertainty and challenge.

What is Japan’s “Godzilla” project in the field of aviation?

The “Godzilla” project is the development of a sixth-generation fighter by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). This aircraft, also known as the Mitsubishi FX, is the result of an international collaboration between Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom under the Global Combat Air Program (GCAP). It is destined to be an aviation giant that will rule the skies and is expected to be operational by the year 2035.

Why did Japan decide to collaborate with Italy and the United Kingdom instead of the United States for the development of the “Godzilla” fighter?

According to journalist Takahashi Kosuke, Japan chose Italy and the United Kingdom as partners in this project for various reasons. First, the choice of UK BAE Systems over Lockheed Martin due to overlapping development times. Second, all three nations share similar tactical requirements. Third, countries want to avoid dependence on the United States for defense technology. Fourth, they look for a balance in the contribution and benefit of the project. And finally, they all have an interest in maintaining a globally competitive defense market.

What does the sixth-generation fighter “Godzilla” represent for Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom?

The sixth generation fighter, nicknamed “Godzilla”, represents a milestone in defense technology and the manifestation of a geopolitical and defense strategy. It is a sign of international cooperation and the determination of these countries to maintain their security and sovereignty. In addition, the project seeks to establish equity in the distribution of benefits and maintain a competitive defense market at a global level.

How is “Godzilla” expected to impact global aviation and defense?

The “Godzilla,” or Mitsubishi FX, is expected to rule the skies and represent a generational leap in fighter technology. This project seeks to provide not only a powerful defense tool but also an opportunity to strengthen cooperation and competition in the global aerospace sector. The vision is to transform the future of defense and aviation, and the world will be watching the birth of the “Godzilla” of the skies.

What was the Mitsubishi X-2 in Japan’s aviation history?

The Mitsubishi X-2 was an attempt by Japan to create a fifth-generation stealth fighter. However, the program was closed in 2017 by the Japanese Defense Ministry’s Technology, Logistics, and Acquisition Agency (ATLA) after 34 flights, acknowledging that they needed international collaboration to develop a stealthy fighter. It is important to highlight