During the 1980s the U.S. military wasn’t interested in an updated version of the F-16 so they passed on the opportunity. Japan was replacing some of their aging fleet and decided to develop
the new F-16 Agile Falcon in cooperation with Mitsubishi and Lockheed Martin. Production began in 1996 with the first aircraft being delivered in 2000. The new aircraft was named the F-2 and
soon earned the nickname “Viper Zero”. Although the F-2 looks similar to the original F-16 it is larger in almost every aspect.
The JASDF 8th Hikotai is based at Tsuiki AB on Kyushu Island along with its sister squadron 6th TFS. On November 25, 2018 Tsuiki AB held its annual open house air show. For this occasion the 8th TFS paint F-2A in a very eye-catching paint scheme. Since the 8th squadron name is “Black Panther” they decided to add an outline of a ferocious panther’s head on the tail. The bright yellow panther is on a very dark background making the image really stand out.
Specifications Mitsubishi F-2A & F-2B
Nickname - Viper Zero
F-2A - Single-seat Multi-role fighter
F-2B - Two-seat training version, fully combat capable
Powerplant: (1) General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan
Dry thrust - 76 kN (17,000 lbf)
Thrust with afterburner - 131 kN (29,500 lbf)
Maximum speed - Mach 2.0
Range - 520 miles (834 km) on anti-ship mission
Service ceiling - 59,000 ft (18,000 m)
Length - 50 ft 11 in (15.52 m)
Wingspan - 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)
Height - 15 ft 5 in (4.69 m)
Wing area - 375 ft² (34.84 m²)
Empty - 21,000 lb (9,527 kg)
Loaded - 33,000 lb (15,000 kg)
Max takeoff - 48,700 lb (22,100 kg)
(1) 20 mm JM61A1 cannon
Capable of carrying up to 17,820 lb (8,085 kg) weapon load on 11 hard points. They
are located - #1 and #11 at the wing tips, #2-5 and #7-10 under the wings, and #6 under the
Air-to-air - AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, Mitsubishi AAM-3, Mitsubishi AAM-4
Air-to-ground - ASM-1 and ASM-2 anti-ship missiles.
Various free-fall bombs with GCS-1 IIR seeker heads, Mk 82 and JM177 bombs
CBU-87, JDAM and JLAU-3/A or RL-4 rocket pods.
Others - J/AAQ-2 FLIR
Mitsubishi Active Electronically Scanned Array radar system including J/APG-1.
Some differences between the F-2 and the F-16
F-2 has a 25% larger wing area.
F-2 is manufactured using composite materials to reduce overall weight and radar signature.
F-2 is longer and wider nose to accommodate phased-array radar.
F-2 has a larger tail-plane.
F-2 has a larger air intake.
F-2 has a three-piece cockpit canopy.
F-2 is equipped with a drogue parachute.