Japan and UK to Build World's Best Air-to-Air Missile

For the first time, Japan and the United Kingdom have joined forces to develop the world's best (in their opinion) air-to-air missile, which will surpass all existing analogues. It is expected to enter service in the late 2020s in order to equip the 5th generation F-35A fighters.

Japan and Great Britain are rightfully ranked among the leading military powers, which is certainly supported by a high level of research and development. In particular, one of the latest achievements of Japan is the AAM-4B air-to-air missile with an improved phased radar in the bow, replacing outdated models.

Japanese F-2 and F-15J fighters are equipped with AAM-4B missiles. Given the large size of the missile, it has to be attached to the external sling even on the F-35A, which does not in the best way affect their stealth. In total, Japan plans to purchase 42 F-35A fighters.

To place a rocket inside the fuselage will have to work hard on its design. One of the options is to equip the missile with a phased array antenna (AFAR), which are already installed on the Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35 fighters and the Russian 5th generation Su-57 fighters.

The predecessors of radars with AFAR - radars with mechanically rotating "saucers" in comparison with them take up much more space, are heavier in weight and, most importantly, react more slowly to changing situations, which is very important in modern air combat.

Great Britain has its own interesting development - Meteor, the world's first solid-propellant air-to-air missile with a ramjet engine, developing a speed of up to Mach 4. In addition to its high speed, it has another advantage - its compact size, which makes it fit in the F-35 compartment.

Preliminary negotiations between Japan and the UK on the joint development of a new missile began in 2014. According to experts, each side contributes to the creation of new weapons in the form of unique military technologies, as a result of which its prototype may appear by mid-2018.