Two articles over at the Lowy Interpreter, one wondering if the F-35 might not be so bad after all. (Reminds me of the Simpsons joke about Springfield Mall, "Where teeange gangs aren't such a problem any more"):
The assumed rules of air-to-air combat may be shifting from speed to sensor capability and payload. As a report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments found last year, 'advances in electronic sensors, communications technology, and guided weapons may have fundamentally transformed the nature of air combat.' Other than its stealth capability, these are attributes where the F-35 boasts significantly advances. It seems the stealth characteristics that were the big selling point of the F-35 may become second tier, and its sensor and communication capabilities could make it the plane for our time.
And a longer piece looking at Japan's ATD-X, currently just a technology demonstrator, but a potentially 'friendly' rival for the F-35 and not so friendly for China's J-20 and J-31.
It is 'a testbed platform for multiple technologies', including next-generation electronically scanned array radar, multi-dimensional thrust vectoring, an indigenous low-bypass turbofan engine and radar-absorbing composite materials. Production of an 'F-3' fighter will not begin until 2027, at the earliest. It is likely that this plane could turn out to be so expensive — a single F-3 could cost US$200 million or more — that Japan may never buy more than a handful.
If successful, the ADT-X/F-3 could shift the centre of gravity in the fighter jet industry from the North Atlantic closer to the Asia-Pacific. If Japan decided to market this fighter to overseas customers — increasingly likely, as Tokyo is quietly watering down its near-total arms export ban — then the F-3 could seriously challenge the West's predominance in this highly lucrative business sector. That, however, depends on the cosmic alignment of a great many technological, economic and political factors, a 'harmonic convergence' that is hardly assured. Japan, despite all its advantages, will continue to struggle in building and maintaining a state-of-the-art aerospace industry.