Japan Gets Its Own Stealth Jet! Is India Even Close?

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Japan has become the fourth nation in the world to fly a manned stealth jet after the United States, Russia and China.

The Japanese jet is seen as a direct response to challenges caused by aggressive Chinese presence in East Asia.

So let's take a look at the new jet as well as find out where India is with regards to acquiring or developing its own stealth aircraft.

Japan Joins The Club - Mitsubishi X-2 Shinshin

The Mitsubishi X-2 Shinsin is the latest stealth jet to reach the skies. Still in development, the jet is 14.174m long and has a wingspan of 9.09ml.

Powered by two afterburning turbofan jet engines that allow it to hit a maximum speed of Mach 2.25 (2,778km/h), the X-2 is capable of cruising at supersonic speeds (supercruise) of Mach 1.82 (2247km/h).

It has a range of 2,900 kilometres. Japan has already spent a total of $332 Million (Rs. 22.13 Billion) to develop the jet till date.

Image Source - Japan Ministry of Defense

Chinese Menace 1 - Shenyang J-31

One of the reason that Japan is troubled by China's advancements is the Shenyang J-31. The J-31 is 16.9m long and has a wingspan of 11.5m.

Powered by two afterburning turbofan jet engines, the stealth jet can reach a top speed of Mach 1.8 (2222km/h) and has a combat range of 4,000 kilometers.

The Jet could join the Chinese Air Force by 2018.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

Chinese Menace 2 - Chengdu J-20: Is India Ready?

The other reason why Japan and India should be worried is this jet. The Chengdu J-20 is 20m long and has a wingspan of 13m.
It currently uses the same engines that J-31 uses, but is expected to get more powerful engines before it joins the Chinese air force in around 2019.

So is India ready for this Chinese stealth threat? Let's find out...

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

When In Trouble Turn To Russia - Sukhoi PAK FA

The Russian Sukhoi PAK FA is Russia's stealth multi-role fighter aircraft. It is 19.8m long and with a wingspan of 13.95m.

It uses two afterburning turbofan jet engines that can push it to Mach 2.3 (2,440 km/h). It can supercruise at Mach 1.6 (1,700 km/h). The PAK FA has a range of 5,500 km.

The Indian Double Hit - Sukhoi/HAL FGFA

This the Indian version of the PAK FA and the major difference between this jet and the Russian one is that the Sukhoi/HAL FGFA can carry two crew members instead of one.

India is also currently developing another stealth jet called the HAL AMCA without the help of any other nation.

However, India has a long way to go before it actually has stealth jets flying over its skies unlike this country.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

The Future Is Already Here - B-2 Spirit Bomber

he only stealth bomber ever made, the B-2 joined the US Air force in 1997 and was used in wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The wing-shaped B-2 is 21m long and has a wingspan of 52.4m. It is powered by 4 General Electric F118-GE-100 Turbofan engines that are buried inside the wing to reduce their heat signature.

Maximum speed is Mach 0.95 (1,010km/h) and it cruises at Mach 0.85(900km/h). It has a range of 11,100km.

The US has already approved another stealth bomber called the Northrop Grumman B-21 which will run side by side with the B-2.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

The Future Is Here - F-35 Lightning II

The newest stealth jet to enter the skies, the F35 Lightning II is the only single-engined aircraft in this list and is already in service with the US Marines.

The Lightning II is also the only stealth aircraft capable of doing short take-offs and vertical-landings. There are three variants of the F35 and all of them measure around 15.5 metres in length while the wingspan varies between 10.7m to 13.4m.

The F-35's single Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan jet engine allows it to hit speed of mach 1.61(1988km/h) and it can supercruise without afterburners at Mach 1.2(1482km/h) The F35's range is 2,200km.

The F-35 will also serve the air forces of the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

The Future Is Here - F-22 Raptor

The F-22 Raptor is the current king of the skies and is the jet that started the whole stealth jet race when it was introduced in 2005. Each unit costs around $200 Million (Rs. 13.33 Billion).

The F-22 is 18.92m long and has a wingspan of 13.56m. The Raptor uses two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 afterburning turbofans which help it top out at Mach 2.25 (2,410 km/h). It can supercruise at Mach 1.82(1,960 km/h) which is faster than the top speed of all the other jets in this list. It has a range of 3,220 kilometres.

It also ended up replacing the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk and the US currently flies 187 units of the F-22.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

The Future Arrived In 1983 -

The first multi-role stealth aircraft to enter production, the F-117 joined the US Air Force in 1983 and wasn't revealed to the public till 1988.

The F-117 is also the only manned stealth aircraft to have been shot down in a combat situation.

The F-117 Nighthawk is 20.09m long and has a wingspan of 13.2m. Powered by two General Electric turbofan engines, the F117 cruised at its top speed of mach 0.92 (993km/h) and had a range of 1,720 kilometers.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

Did The Future Arrive Earlier?

However, none of the jet planes that you've seen were the world's first stealth plane.

To find that plane you have to go back to 1944 to the end of World War II and enter the insane world of Nazi Germany.

Image Source - Wikimedia Commons

The Father Of Stealth - Horten Ho 229 Bomber

With the Nazis losing the war, Hitler turned to the flying wing shaped Ho 229 bomber designed by the Horten brothers.

It used two Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet, the world's first turbojet to go into production.

The plane's wings were made of wood and used a layer of carbon powder mixed with glue to avoid radar. It was 7.47metres long and had a wingspan of 16.76m.

Nazi Germany lost the war and the only remaining prototype was taken to the US and was the major inspiration for the B-2 more than 40 years later.

Image Source

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Story first published: Saturday, April 23, 2016, 20:12 [IST]
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