The Japanese Air Development and Test Wing has completed flight tests of the Mitsubishi F-2A/B fighter, but the delivery schedule has suffered more delays.

It is now expected that deployment of the aircraft to Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) squadrons will be approved by the Japan Defence Agency (JDA) in September. Nine aircraft have been budgeted for the JDA's procurement plan for fiscal year 2000.

The JASDF wants about 130 aircraft (83 F-2As and 47 F-2Bs), but the final number will depend on the defence budget. First deliveries have been repeatedly delayed - the previous delivery target was August this year, but was held up by structural cracking problems in the F-2's wing, compounded by excessive fin root loads discovered during negative 1g roll manoeuvring.

The cracked areas have been reinforced with metal plates. The JASDF had hoped to take delivery of 19 aircraft by the end of this fiscal year in March 2001.

The F-2A is intended to replace the JASDF Mitsubishi F-1.

Source: Flight International