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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 21st Squadron of the 4th Wing (21 Hikotai, 4 Kokudan) is based at Matsushima Air Base in Miyagi Prefecture. It is a Flying Training Command unit that is part of the JASDF system. The Flying Training Command is responsible for basic flying and technical training. Originally there had been 47 F-2Bs ordered but that has been reduced along with a reduction in the original 83 F-2As. High cost overruns and the poor world economy was cited as the main factors for the cuts.
Nickname: Viper Zero
F-2A Single-seat Multi-role fighter
F-2B Two-seat training version, fully combat capable
Powerplant: General Electric F110-GE-129 turbofan
Max 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)
Height: 15 ft 5 in (4.69 m)
Wingspan: 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)
Wing Area: 375 ft² (34.84 m²)
Empty Weight: 21,000 lb (9,527 kg)
Loaded: 33,000 lb (15,000 kg)
Max Takeoff: 48,700 lb (22,100 kg)
Armament: 20 mm JM61A1 cannon
Capable of carrying up to 17,820 lb (8,085 kg) weapon load on 11 hard points.
Possible Weapons: Air-to-air - AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, Mitsubishi AAM-3, Mitsubishi AAM-4
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
Air-to-ground - ASM-1 and ASM-2 anti-ship missiles.