On Friday, Japan took its domestically designed stealth jet to the skies for the first time, joining the US, Russia, and China as one of the only countries to produce fifth-generation combat aircraft.
Japan’s X-2 stealth-fighter prototype is the country’s answer to the American-made fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II, Russia’s T-50, and China’s J-20 and J-31.
The X-2, also called the “Shinshin,” which translates to “Spirit of the Heart,” has been in development for over a decade, costing Japan a cool $294 million (2.3 billion yen).
By unveiling the X-2, Tokyo may be trying to send a clear signal to global powers that it wants its defense industry to be taken seriously, said Jeffrey Hornung, afellow at the security and foreign-affairs program at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, told FP magazine.
“This may be Japan saying, ‘We can do the technology, so consider us for international consortium projects'” such as the one that developed the F-35 stealth fighter, Hornung told FP magazine.
According to Takahiro Yoshida, an official within the Japanese Defense Ministry, the X-2, “has high maneuverability yet with stealth capability,” unlike America’s most expensive war machine, the F-35 jet, Military.com reports.
Watch the footage of one of the X-2’s first takeoffs below:
Amanda Macias contributed to this report.