Japan unveils stealth plane

Associated Press

Toyoyama, Japan — Japan has unveiled its first homemade stealth plane as it tries to catch up on the technology and enhance its reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities as China expands its own military presence in the region.

The experimental X-2 unveiled Thursday is expected to make its maiden test flight in February. Defense officials said the aircraft is designed to test the stealth technology that would possibly be combined with the next-generation fighter jet, replacing the fleet of F-2 fighters as early as 2028.

The aircraft has a 45-foot-long fuselage and 30-foot-long wingspan. Led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, the stealth plane comes with radar-resistance features, including a canopy with special stealth-enhancing coating, and mobility.

The 40 billion yen ($340 million) project began in 2009.