|ASF-X Shinden II|
|Aircraft Role||Next-generation fighter|
|Variants|| F-3 Shinden II (mass production)|
|Operators||Japan Air Self-Defense Force|
|Manufacturers||Taiga Heavy Industries|
|Appearances|| Ace Combat: Assault Horizon |
The development of the ASF-X was conceived after the September 11 attacks in the United States and the perceived weakness of the Japanese military's border defense ability after the illegal incursion of two CFA-44 Nosferatus over the Japanese mainland in May of 2002. The creation of a new aircraft designed to deal with the situation was undertaken by Taiga Heavy Industries in August 2003.
As some members of the team responsible for the new jet were interested on technology of the former Imperial Japanese Army, it was internally known as the "Shinden II" after the experimental Kyushu J7W, a fighter intended to protect the country from American bomber raids. The plan involved the use of technologies of US manufacturer Fore Jet, bought by THI shortly in late 2002.
In October of 2003, Taiga contacted the brands Rolls-Royce and EuroJet to secure engines for the plane. The Shinden II was officially unveiled in August 2004, retaining its codename into production. The basic body design was finished by October of the following year, and tests with Rolls-Royce powerplants were conducted in May 2006.
The former Japan Defense Agency issued orders to Taiga to produce the ASF-X in November of 2008, leading it to exclude the F-22A Raptor from the F-X program the month after. In January 2009, technicians and staff from the newly born Ministry of Defense reviewed the program, leading to a round of talks concerning the jet's design in February of that year. Three variants were conceived: a conventional launch (CTOL) unit, an STOL aircraft and a VTOL unit. A United Kingdom model, the "F-3 ENG", was too considered.
In May of 2010, an agreement over the final design was reached between Taiga and the MOD. The design was concluded in September, as the production of an "ASF-X-0" stress testing model began. A prototype model of the CTOL-based F-3A, the ASF-X-01, was conceived that same month. Plans for the creation of a new air-to-air missile began three months prior, and a summary of the Shinden II project was released to the public in May 2011. Testing of the -0 unit started in June of 2012.
The ASF-X-01 was completed in May of 2013, and was tested for the first time by Taiga in August. The jet was delivered to the MOD in February 2014, leading the Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) to assemble a provisional test team of F-15J pilots from the 23rd Squadron. A second squadron, the 19th "ACES" Squadron, was also formed. Beginning from March of 2014, the plane conducted hundreds of test sorties from Taiga's Yokozuka Aircraft Factory. Small issues concerning electrical problems and airframe cracking arose, yet none of them were grave enough to ensure the grounding of the plane.
January 2016 saw the beginning of the Phase II period of testing. The ASF-X-02, an STOVL-based model whose development began the previous September, was delivered to the Ministry in June. The third and fourth aircraft, the ASF-X-03 and ASF-X-04 followed suit in July and August, respectively. All four aircraft participated in a final test flight some time later, and the Shinden II was deemed ready for service.
October saw the beginning of production of the preliminary F-3FSD (Full Scale Development) model, the CTOL model's starting that same month and the STOVL version following suit in December. The first FSD unit was completed in May 2017, and tested two months later. A batch of six STOVLs and six CTOLs was produced and delivered to detachments in Hokkaido and Okinawa for testing purposes to detect and solve problems as rapidly as possible.
Entry to serviceEdit
The bombing carried out by the New Russian Federation on the Haneda harbor of Tokyo in September 2018 caused the Japanese military to alter their aviation protocols, ordering the testing Shinden IIs to permanently carry live weapons in case of enemy attacks. Three days later, a second attack against Tokyo was foiled by the four ASF-X test units, which had just returned from an emergency simulacrum in the Sanriku Coast. The aircraft engaged an squadron of NRF Su-37F fighters backed by jammer aircraft, most of which retreated after the initial attack force was defeated in the capital.
The incident in Tokyo prompted the government to authorize the entry of the F-3 into active service. Months later, a conventional F-3FSD was delivered to the Ministry of Defense in January 2018, followed by a VTOL model in March. The Japan Air Self Defense Force held a ceremony in April 2019 commemorating the Ministry of Defense's delivery of the first F-3As to a temporary testing unit of the JASDF. A month later, the delivery of the first batch of F-3Bs, their development starting in October, was scheduled for a squadron of the Maritime Defense Forces from Naval Air Facility Atsugi. Meanwhile, the twelve FSD units were planned to be converted to mass-production standard, with eight receiving the serial number 90-8701 and others would be designated 90-7001.