Japan’s first indigenous combat aircraft produced since the end of World War II, the F-1 originated from a 1972 decision to develop a single-seat close air support fighter from the Mitsubishi T-2 supersonic trainer. The overall performance of the latter was such that virtually no aerodynamic modifica-tions had to be made, the principal change from the T-2 to the F-1 being the fairing over the rear cockpit for a bombing computer, inertial navigation and radar warning systems, without changing the contours. Two T-2s were converted to a single-seat fighter variant and redesignated FST-2-Kai. The first flight of this prototype (59-5107) took place on 3 June 1975, a conversion of the third production T-2 trainer.
The two prototypes were modified T-2s with weapons systems equipment and test instrumentation in the rear cockpits. Powered by two 7,070 lb st / 3207kg with afterburning Ishikawajima-Harima TF40-IHI-801A (licence-built Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour) turbofans, the F-1 was armed with a single 20mm JM61 multi-barrel cannon in the lower front fuselage and had provision for up to 2721kg of bombs or rockets on the fuselage centreline and four wing hardpoints. Normal armament comprised two ASM-1 air-to-surface missiles and two or four AIM-9 Sidewinder AAMs.
Its primary task in the Japanese Self Defense Force was anti-shipping with the 50km range ASM-1 anti-ship missile as its primary weapon. It is equipped with the J/AWG-12 radar which has two operating modes, air-to-air and air-to-surface, and is compatible with the ASM-1 missile. It has an air-to-air capability using the AIM-9 IR seeking missile, but because of its short range this capability is only limited.
The Air Self-Defence Force purchased 77 F-1s, and the first production example (70-8201) of the Mitsubishi F-1 was flown on 16 June 1977. First deliveries of the initial 59 aircraft ordered began in 1977 to the 3rd Squadron of the JASDF's 81st Air Wing were made on 26 September 1977, and in April 1978 the first F-1 entered JASDF (Japanese Self Defense Force) service. All were delivered by 1987.
70 were retrofitted during 1991-93 to enable them to remain in Air Self-Defence Force service until 1999-2000. The retrofit included installation of an advanced fire control system, provision of a stronger cockpit canopy and compatibility with the ASM-2 anti-shipping missile and XGCS homing bomb.
The F-1 was scheduled to be replaced by the F-2.
Engines: two 32.49 kN (7,305 lb st) Ishikawajima-Harisma TF40-IHI-801 (license built Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca Adour Mk 801A) afterburning turbofans
Wing span 7.88m (25 ft 10¼ in)
Length 17.86m (58 ft 7 in)
Height 4.39m (14 ft 5 in)
Wing area, 228 sq ft (21,18 sq.m)
Empty weight, 14,017 lb (6 358 kg)
Max loaded weight, 30,146 lb (13 674 kg)
Max speed, 1,056mph (Mach 1.6 / 1700 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12 190 m)
Service ceiling 15240m (50,000 ft)
Initial climb, 35,000 ft/ min (177,8 m/sec)
Combat radius, 346 mls (556 km)
Max range: 1100 km / 684 miles
Armament: one JM61 Vulcan 20mm multi-barrel cannon with 750 rounds
Bombload: 2721 kg (6,000 lb)