The Mitsubishi F-2A is a Japanese multirole fighter based on the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
In the mid-1980s, Japan searched for an replacement for the Mitsubishi F-1. It was decided to develop a new fighter based on the American F-16 Fighting Falcon.
In October 1987, the program, called FS-X, was officially started. In comparison to the F-16, the F-2 is redesigned and modified, so that it is not a derivative of the Fighting Falcon. The fuselage of the F-2 is somewhat longer, the wings are a completely new developed and somewhat larger than on the F-16. The Mitsubishi Electric developed J/APG-1 multirole radar has a maximum range of 190 km; the F-2 was the first operational aircraft, that was equipped with an AESA-radar.
Because of the use of many composite materials, the Radar Cross section was lowered. It was also planned to equip the F-2 with Canards, being mounted in front of the intake, but that wasn´t realized. In the cockpit a heads-up display, screens and an ejection seat made by Lockheed Martin are mounted. It is controlled by a fly-by-wire system and a Hands on Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS).
In the middle of the year 1992, a 1:1 mock up of the F-2 was first shown publicly and in 1995 the first roll-out of the first of four prototypes (two of them were double-seaters) was made. The XF-2A (63-0001) had it´s first flight on 7th October 1995, flown by Yoshiyuki Watanabe.
The second prototype was first flown on 13th December 1995. During flight testing, the F-2A showed problems with anti-ship weapons, while they were not solid enough on the hardpoints, what prevented the program to be continued. The first definitive aircraft was a single seat F-2A, which had it´s first flight in 1999.
The aircraft is built in two variants: as a single seat aircraft (F-2A) and a double seat aircraft (F-2B).
The first F-2 entered operational status in September 2000 and were based at the 3rd Fighter squadron of the Japanese Air Force (Japanese Air Self-Defense Force) in Misawa. All in all 180 aircraft should be built (47 of them should be F-2B), but at least 94 were built. The F-2 replaced the Mitsubishi F-1 in it´s role as a Fighter-bomber (Battlefield Air Interdiction, Close Air Support, Anti-Surface Warfare) and it supports the F-15J Eagle with Air Defense.