Japan plans to install from 2006 a locally developed forward-looking infrared (FLIR) sensor on its fleet of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) F-2 support fighters.

The Japan Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) says development of the FLIR will be completed next fiscal year, which starts on 1 April, and the system will be ready for installation in FY2006.

TRDI is developing the FLIR in-house with the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF). MHI sister company Mitsubishi Electric has been selected to manufacture the system.

The Japan Defence Agency (JDA) has not yet decided how many F-2s to equip with FLIR. JASDF began operating F-2s in late 2000 and has a requirement for 130 aircraft, over 40 of which have already been delivered.

TRDI says each FLIR is estimated to cost ¥260 million ($2.4 million), assuming at least 50 are acquired. TRDI has requested ¥180 million in FY2004 to finish the development effort.

Source: Flight International