JAPAN'S DEFENCE Agency has awarded a final contract to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) to complete development of the FS-X support fighter for the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF).

The '19.6 billion ($220 million) contract covers the purchase of an additional General Electric F110-129 engine for the FS-X flight- and ground-test programme aircraft spare parts and ancillary support equipment.

This latest contract brings to $3.27 billion the total funding to have been spent on developing the FS-X since 1988 - almost double the original estimated cost of development. FS-X expenditure peaked in the last fiscal year, with '82.5 billion spent of the programme.

The first of four flying prototypes in scheduled to have its maiden flight in the third quarter of this year.

The JASDF hopes to take delivery of its first fighter in 1999, provided that the Japanese Government approves production in 1996.

Source: Flight International