Japan has picked Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as a main contractor to develop the country's own next generation stealth fighter for launch in the 2030s, the defense minister said.
Separately, Mitsubishi announced that it was suspending its civilian aircraft project given uncertainties for the travel industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The next generation fighters, currently known as F-X, are part of Japan's upgrading of its aging fighter jet fleet as the country builds up its military capability to counter growing threats from China and North Korea.
The next generation stealth jet will replace F-2s that Japan co-developed with the U.S. They are due to be retired around 2035. The Defense Ministry is seeking $556 million in the 2021 budget for research into developing the aircraft.
Fighter invisible to radar due to its unique body shape, outer coating, and thermal dissipation.
China's J-20 stealth fighter was shown in a training dogfight on state television.