The F-3 could be the next world-beating fighter jet

The F-3 could be the next world-beating fighter jet, by Kyle Mizokami.

Last week, Lockheed Martin proposed building a hybrid F-22 Raptor/F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for Japan. The jet, possibly to be known as F-3, would be the most advanced jet fighter in the world. …

Japan didn’t intend to wait so long for new fighters. The country originally planned to purchase the F-22 Raptor, but a U.S. law meant to protect the F-22’s technology from prying eyes banned the fighter from export. (Ironically, the law is rooted in Israel’s unauthorized export of U.S. fighter technology to China, which resulted in the J-10 “Vigorous Dragon” fighter.) …

Last month, news sources announced Japan was scrapping an effort to produce an indigenous air superiority fighter, opting to instead develop one with an international partner.

Now we know who that partner might be: Lockheed Martin. Aside from Sukhoi in Russia and Chengdu in China, Lockheed Martin is the only company in the world that has actually developed and produced stealthy, fifth-generation fighters. According to a report in Reuters, Lockheed is offering a hybrid F-22 Raptor/F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, combining the best attributes of both.

So what would this stealthy F-3 hybrid jet look like? The first thing that comes to mind is an F-22 Raptor on the outside with the F-35 JSF on the inside. Such a design would combine the Raptor’s stealth, twin engine layout, supermaneuverability and larger internal payload with the JSF’s advanced computers, modern avionics and networking capabilities. (The F-22 Raptor, while a still a fairly modern jet, runs on 286 microprocessors from the Windows 95 era.)

F-35 top, F-22 bottom

In other words, eliminate the outdated electronics and computers of the F-22 and the compromised and poor avionics of the F-35. Hooray!

The F-3 would also be attractive to other nations that were frozen out of F-22 purchases but still need a world-class air superiority jet. Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Israel were all interested in purchasing the F-22. …

If Japan pays for the development costs of F-3, the U.S. Air Force could piggyback onto the purchase, lowering costs for all parties. …

An F-22/F-35 mashup would probably take ten years to develop and could cost more than 60 billion dollars. In 2017, an Air Force study quoted the cost of procuring an additional 194 F-22s at 50 billion dollars — including ten billion just to restart the production line.