Japan has an exciting new aeroplane! It's the X-2 prototype, an all-new, internally developed take on the stealth fighter genre, decked out in nationalistic red and white.
The country's Advanced Technology Demonstrator made its first flight last Friday, making it from Nagoya airport to the Gifu Air Field some 11 miles away. Japan's been building this to lessen its reliance on US tech, hoping that the machine -- with contributions from local industrial giants Mitsubishi and IHI Corp -- may kickstart innovation in its declining aerospace business.
Here it is, not exploding or anything:
The country's defence minister, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, said: "The maiden flight was significant to secure the necessary capability for a next-generation fighter jet. We can expect technological innovation in the aerospace industry as well as application of that technology in different fields."
Despite the fanfare, it may turn out to be a developmental dead end. One of Japan's options for securing its medium-term skies against potential Chinese bombers is to simply buy in the American Lockheed Martin F-35, as our RAF is doing and flying it under the name Lightning II. A move that might turn out cheaper, but won't be so exciting. [Japan Times via Jalopnik]