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Japan Solicits NASA's Help on Supersonic Jet 162

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the high-hopes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Since the Concorde supersonic jet is now retired, Japan is looking for the next generation supersonic flight solution. Japan's space agency is planning talks with NASA next month. They are looking for a partner since they have experienced a 'string of glitches, including a nose cone problem during the latest test flight in March.'"
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Japan Solicits NASA's Help on Supersonic Jet

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  • From the article:
    The United States has already carried out a flight test with a scramjet engine, while the European Union, Japan, China, Russia and India are in different stages of testing their technologies.
    *sighs*

    Think how much money, time & effort could be saved if resources were pooled. (maybe this thing would be ready before 2025).

    I guess we'll all have to learn to get along first (oh & hopefully, the cooporation will be more equal then it was on the Joint strike fighter [timesonline.co.uk] project between Britain & the US)
    • by colganc (581174) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:47AM (#15291484)
      If everything is pooled and one giant project is undertaken there is a good chance many interesting and novel solutions to supersonice transportation might not be discovered. Many different projects almost guarentees a couple of good and different solutions. Each solution will have it pro's and con's. Be better for one thing and slightly worse for something else. Competition is good.
      • by Aglassis (10161) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:16AM (#15291565)
        I agree completely. When you pool resources you get things like the ISS. At this point in that project can we really say we haved saved money by doing it the international way?

        One of the big things that you lose when you pool resources is adaptability. Now that's fine if you are building a piece of technology that is completely understood, but it is death to people who want to compete in emerging technologies.

        Would the US space program be better off if we were able to cut off funding to the ISS and focus on the CEV? I think so. But that is not possible because we have international agreements. We have to finish our share before we abandon it.

        These international resource pools remind me of the old engineering maxim:
        • How long will your project take?
          • Two weeks.
        • What if we double the amount of people on it?
          • Four weeks.
        • When you pool resources you get things like the ISS.

          And when you don't pool, you get the MIR - if you still have the USSR at hand. And Skylab.

        • by cyclone96 (129449) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @09:27AM (#15292480)

          When you pool resources you get things like the ISS. At this point in that project can we really say we haved saved money by doing it the international way?
          ?

          As a NASA employee who has worked on ISS, no.

          All the usual criticism of ISS aside, there are a few things that the cooperation with Russia enabled. Politically it made ISS much more viable as a program (frankly, it wouldn't be around without it) and an easier "sell" to congress. The alternate access with Soyuz has had obvious benefits with the orbiter problems. Personally, I enjoy working with my Russian counterparts very much and I love traveling there.

          But cheaper? No way. It takes 10 times as long to solve even the most basic problems. With the Russians, the language barrier is significant (ever try to work out a complex technical problem through an interpreter?). The Europeans and Japanese communicate much faster since they have excellent English skills, but their overall lack of experience with manned spaceflight programs offset that advantage. Time zone differences are significant (all of our meetings must be extremely early in the morning for us and late in the afternoon for them). We spend a ton of money on international travel (there is no substitute for face to face meetings).

          There is a lot of overhead associated with export control since anything associated with aerospace may be classified as a munition. Stuff that is classified can't be shared, period.

          The Russians are so strapped for cash they generally won't give up documents/engineering support without a contract (and payment).

          There is no "chief engineer". Whenever the crap hits the fan, there is no person at the top who can make a final decision (as would be the case in a program managed by, say, the Air Force). Many engineering problems become international negotiations with politics in the mix. When Dennis Tito paid for his Soyuz trip a number of years ago, the US laboratory had a massive systems failure several days before his launch. Some members of Russian management thought (due to the poor way NASA handled his flight) it was some sort of staged event and basically said they were going to launch him no matter what.

          I'm sure many of you have international project success stories. For a large aerospace program, however, I think the only model that is really cost effective is having an international partner supply a subsytem as a "black box" and in a role subordinate to a overall integrator. That worked for the FGB module of ISS (which was procured from Krunichev under subcontract, on time, on budget). Partnership is definitely not cheaper.
          • When you pool resources you get things like the ISS. At this point in that project can we really say we haved saved money by doing it the international way?

            As a NASA employee who has worked on ISS, no.

            [snippage: discussion of costs and problems caused by the partnership]

            You missed one of the biggests costs and impacts of the partnership; an increase in total risk to the Shuttle and astronauts caused shifting the orbital plane to one the Russians can reach. This reduces the effective cargo capability -

    • Think how much money, time & effort could be saved if resources were pooled.

      Who will head the pool? That's the big question... there's hardly any point in joining a syndicate, if the Board is excusively controlled by an elite few, whose only claim to power is their nation's military might.

      Whether it's satellites, rockets, missions to the moon or supersonic jets, few BIG nations want to co-operate or pool - just exploit hi-tech low-paid manpower from abroad.
      • I'd say that given that America is the only country with a working scramjet, maybe...we'd head the team? Or it'd be something like the international spacestation project.

        The reasons for pooling aren't simply political or otherwise, it's much easier to fund such things between a couple countries working together, as opposed to each on their own (faster results as well, unless you forget to convert from meters to feet)

        Hate to squash your obvious anti-american quip here, but we've got the bombs, as well
        • I'd say that given that America is the only country with a working scramjet, maybe...we'd head the team? Or it'd be something like the international spacestation project.

          Huh? Do I not recall a successful test of the British and Australian built Hyshot III in Australia earlier this year, that was definately a scramjet. Nasas X-47 is not the only successful scramjet.

          • Do I not recall a successful test of the British and Australian built Hyshot III in Australia earlier this year

            You do recall. In fact, all this bleating about lack of collaboration and pooling resources is just polemic. Hyshot IS a collaborative effort, and results ARE being shared.

      • an elite few, whose only claim to power is their nation's military might.

        Well, let's see... The only country that springs to mind whose "only claim to power" is their "military might" would be North Korea.

        All of the G8 nations have vast, diversified economies, which are the basis of their power and influence.

        -jcr

    • Unequal (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mark_MF-WN (678030) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:56AM (#15291514)
      Even an unequal cooperation can have enormous benefits. Look at Canada and the US with regards to nuclear research. Canada didn't get any bombs out of it (not that we particularly need any when our allies are armed to the nuts with them), but our scientists saw enough of the action to later on make us a leader in nuclear power. Having some of the world's biggest uranium deposits helps, of course, but still. An unequal partnership, if leveraged properly, can be just awesome. It's definitely better than no partnership at all, especially for wee little nations like the aforementioned Canada.
      • by jbeaupre (752124)
        Now that you put it that way, it sounds like we in the States got ripped off! Yeah, well, we'll have our revenge. With global warming, how you gonna play hockey? Maybe if we had done all the work, we'd be farther ahead in nuclear power and you'd still have hockey.
        • Well, it's not like the US isn't one of the other leaders in Nuclear technology. And with all the recent interest in nuclear, y'all could make a killing exporting snazzy little reactors that run on the plutonium from de-commissioned weapons. As long as you only export them to people you trust, of course. Everyone else gets depleted landfill-grade radon... :P
    • While the theory of consortiums is a nice one, there's too many parties interested in keeping the technologies (read: profits) for themselves. Too many people want a slice of the pie, and the people who get these projects started aren't going to divvy out unless those wanting a slice of that pie are willing to invest in them strongly - and then they still want to keep hold of the reins.

      However, at least one of the positive aspects of competition is that you don't get stuck in a rut with working on a single
      • Here's one area where capitalism shoots itself in the foot: by not sharing new information, everyone has to reinvent the wheel, wasting massive amounts of money. The scientific ideal of sharing all new discoveries would make innovation much more efficient.
        • Yes, but the money still goes somewhere, in this case to the workers that supplied whatever the money is being wasted on. If capitalism is shooting itself in the foot there, it's also growing a new foot elsewhere in a system that creates those parts. Maybe the people who are buying the parts are suckers for not conferring - but that just means there's more people further down the chain that are doing better out of that sucker cash. The money just goes round and round; sometimes it gets stuck in some places,
          • Sure, the money still goes somewhere, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not accomplishing as much as it could. Using your logic, it's okay for pork barrel contracts to exist; I'd rather see that money being applied to where it'll do some good beyond providing people with a living.
    • Scramjets are so rediculously energy inefficient that I don't see them in widespread use other than in the military. It isn't like electronics technology where smaller transistors can be made to do more with less electricity, there are fundemental physics at issue here. The same goes for space passenger services, the amount of energy needed to get into orbit is staggering that I'm skeptical that it can ever be made affordable for middle class use.
    • Well, I'd look at it this way.

      You're the smartest kid in the class. Your project is 75% done.
      The other kids, not from perhaps as nice a home as yours, without your rich parents and ample access to resources, are only 10-50% done.

      What possible motivation could you have for handing your project materials over to the others, to help them get theirs done? Note: before you answer, please remember that as far as I know, nobody (no landlords, grocers, car dealers, universities, doctors, etc) let you pay for anyt
    • Competition brings to light solutions that one particular team might elimiate via a trade study by valuing the wrong thing in a trade. Competition is good. Especially in (still) developing fields like high-speed combustion. There is no right and wrong or "My way or the highway (Yet...). We know "In theory" this is how it should be built but "In practice" it is very different. The best tradeoff might be a worse design than the second best tradeoff due to a parameter that was neglected by the engineers. Compe
    • NASA is fully preoccupied with finishing the space station for our international partners and developing the CEV and new lunar landing infrastructure. NASP, X-33, Boeing's Supersonic Airliner.. There will be no major expendatures on yet another pie in the sky aerospaceplane. The justification is pretty weak - Tokyo to L.A. It sounds more like a bumbling attempt to grab technology from the US.

  • When last I heard about this issue, it was considered completely feasible to develop a sub-orbital passenger service for those super-premium customers who would otherwise spend some $3000 US on a concorde ticket.

    Further, considering the resources required to maintain the concorde, which is reportedly the norm for such high performance aircraft, I see no reason why it wouldn't be more cost effective to move forward with the concept.

    Granted the maintainance would need to be even more intensive and exacting, b
    • it was considered completely feasible to develop a sub-orbital passenger service for those super-premium customers who would otherwise spend some $3000 US on a concorde ticket.

      It is worth noting that a long semiballistic trajectory (say half way around the Earth) requires almost as much energy as achieving orbit. Then you have similar thermal protection issues to deal with.

      You could do it with a space shuttle but its not going to be much safer.

    • This might sound stupid, but I'd feel ripped off if I paid $3000+ for a plane ride that only lasted 30 minutes, even if it did take me to the other side of the planet.
    • ... there are a **lot** of people who would like to talk to you.

      LEO time to orbit is about 90 minutes, so that is 45 minutes to make it halfway around the world (or to just about anywhere from anywhere if you think about it). In order to make a suborbital hop "on the order of 30 minutes" you'd have to do orbital velocity...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    solly...
  • Why was the Conconrde retired? Something very mysterious there, considering the success of that design over several years.
    -
    • Number of reasons, fuel costs being high and rising, low passenger numbers after 9/11 and the fact that Airbus refused to renew the maintenance and parts contract that was due to expire. Normally, aircraft maintenance would be picked up by a third party in that case, but with only 12 aircraft in an airworthy state, and not all of them flying, it wasnt cost effective for the normal maintenance companies to step in.
      • Why can't the 'DESIGN' of the Concorde be shared? That's got nothing to do with the economics and all these speculative conspiracy theories.

        It appears the single largest cause for the failure of the Concorde was bad management, not bad design.

        • Because its too small - it was only designed to seat 140 passengers, and under todays economics that simply is not enough. Oil today is touching $100 a barrel for aviation requirements and that produces a CASM (cost per average seat mile) thats pretty much unsustainable even for the wealthy. The aircraft needs to me bigger and carry more people and cargo (which produces a substantial income for airlines on most routes).

          Aviation has moved on considerably since Concorde was designed in the 1960s, and muc
    • by joecm (16636) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:50AM (#15291493) Homepage
      Nova had a great show on the history of the Concorde recently and talked in detail about why it went under. Though there were many reasons, I was a bit suprised that one of the main reasons was that 40 of their most regular customers died in the World Trade Center. Though the number does not seem that high, these same people also allowed other execs in their company to fly which really hurt the concorde.
    • It crashes if it hits a bit of wreckage [aeronautics.ru] that some idiot left on the runway.
    • Here is an article about the concorde retiring [concordesst.com]

      EXCERT
      "The airline said that its decision had been made for commercial reasons with passenger revenue falling steadily against a backdrop of rising maintenance costs for the aircraft.
      Detailed discussions over an extended period with Airbus, the aircraft's manufacturer, confirmed the need for an enhanced maintenance programme in the coming years, the carrier added.
      British Airways has decided that such an investment cannot be justified in the face of fal
    • Why was the Conconrde retired

      British Airways made over GBP1bn from Concorde, Air France made a loss. AF wanted out but the agreement with BA said neither side could unilaterally stop flying concordes and BA were making money so...

      Concorde's airworthiness certificates were owned by Airbus via aquisitions over the years and Airbus under pressure from AF withdrew the airworthiness certificate thus grounding the lot. To guarantee it stayed that way and couldn't be reversed, all the spare parts were sold off
    • Don't forget about the accident [bbc.co.uk] and the grounding [newscientist.com] - these didn't help much. IIRC they had to do work on the engines while it was grounded to get their airworthiness certificate back as it was possible that the 2 engines on each wing weren't protected well enough from each other during failure.
  • Consumers need a super sonic jet just about as much as they need a 300kph Ferrari. It wasn't practical with the Concorde and it won't be pratical now. Planes cost too much already, an Airbus A380 goes for $300,000,000 USD. I don't see how Japan expects some plane that won't fly until 2025 at the earliest, to transform their aerospace industry. People aren't going to pay the premium ticket price if the plane is ever finished just like few paid the steep ticket cost of the concorde. It seems this money could
    • by dtmos (447842) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:41AM (#15291625)
      In August 2005 [slashdot.org].

      To sum up, the rationale for the Japanese to work on a supersonic transport is based on three assumptions:

      1. The scramjet engine will reduce operating (read: fuel) costs per average passenger mile significantly below that of the Concorde (by supporting a larger plane and being more fuel-efficient at cruise),

      2. The plane will be capable of nonstop trans-Pacific flight (an ability also largely due to the fuel-efficiency of the scramjet), and

      3. The much longer trans-Pacific flights in which the Japanese are interested will more dramatically show the time-of-arrival advantage of the supersonic plane than the shorter trans-Atlantic flights of the Concorde, and make it more appealing to seat-weary passengers.

      I suppose there is also a fourth assumption, that cheap, fast, trans-Pacific travel would greatly improve the national economy of Japan in general and the Japanese aircraft industry in particular. This is the reason the Japanese government is expressing interest.

      Whether these assumptions turn out to be factual or not requires research, which the Japanese are now doing.

      I now return you to your previously-scheduled discussion, already in progress.
    • It seems this money could be better spent on current planes that are actually economically feasible for airlines to fly.

      By your thinking, then we should not even be flying. Look, we use to be on the piston engines. In fact, a great economical aircraft was the DC-7. A piston engine that flew at 300 MPH. But it was maxed out. When the 707 came out, it overtook quickly, even though initially it cost more to own and to fly. But once the jet era took off, then research invented the turbofan and then the low cos

    • The biggest benefit of supersonic travel would be the elimination of jet lag. The long flight, not only in taking up half a day, results in you being groggy for a day or two as you adjust. Then the reverse coming back. And the older you get, the harder it is to adjust (at least for me).

      I don't know what it would cost, but some of it will be offset since they won't need two full flight and cabin crews, they won't need to carry three meals and snacks.

      Just wish I had the money to take it, I'm sure I'll a
  • Why NASA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cicero382 (913621) <{ku.oc.ilacsit} {ta} {jycnalc}> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @04:58AM (#15291516)

    Haven't the British and French teams who designed and built Concorde got the best experience?
    • The senior engineers have probably retired
    • They are all but retired now. They need to look elsewhere.

      Only one company has designed, built and tested a non-military supersonic plane since Concorde and Tu-144. It is Sukhoi for Gulfstream. SUKHOI-GULFSTREAM S-21. http://www.x-plane.org/home/spiff000/S21/S21specs . html [x-plane.org]

      It is not completely clear what Lokheed Martin will do with the patents for the low sonic boom hypersonics and they are rumoured to have a Skunkworks project on it. Noone has seen it yet so the jury is still out on that one.

      It is a

      • It is not completely clear what Lokheed Martin will do with the patents for the low sonic boom hypersonics and they are rumoured to have a Skunkworks project on it. Noone has seen it yet so the jury is still out on that one.

        has anyone heard it???

        I'll get my coat...

    • As others have noted the engineers are long retired.

      But ironically, in any case the engineers decided (probably very wisely) that going faster than mach ~2.02 causes problems with the airframe, and in particular the nose cone... guess what problems the Japanese are having with their mach mucho vehicle?

      Specifically, the engineers decided to make it easy for themselves and use aluminium for constructing Concorde, and got a working vehicle; whilst spending less than the American companies, who tried to go

  • Something with an aerospike engine [wikipedia.org] would be nice...Or not.
  • It'll never fly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deathmatchbunny (973674) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:37AM (#15291620)
    Commercial supersonic flight is dead. -There is just no way that you can get around the fact that it takes roughly two to three times the fuel per km flown to travel at supersonic speed. There are fairly fundamental reasons why there will be no significant advances in this area. A future supersonic jet transport might have a glide angle of 12:1 (concorde was ~8:1) while a modern commercial jet is over 20:1 and a future BWB is over 30:1 (some gliders hit 60:1). -The sonic boom prevents any overflight of populated areas and even if significant noise reduction could be achieved the very small constituency for such a service would still see any residual boom noise used as an excuse by the general (and envious) public to restrict or outright ban such overflight. - Exhaust emissions at 20km altitude (roughly double 10km of commercial jets) are of far greater environmental concern due to lower mixing rates with lower atmosphere, impact of water vapour as the number one greenhouse gas and proximity to the politically and environmentally sensitive ozone layer. -Technology really hasn't improved much in relevant materials or engines. Add to this the high costs of development, relatively restricted range and limited routes and you have a total non-starter.
    • Whilst I accept your environmental concerns (though a scramjet could reduce the impact), I think the sonic boom issue is irrelevant for a Japanese trans-Pacific plane, since there are relatively few inhabited places over-flown whilst travelling from Japan to the Americas.

      Rob.
    • Re:It'll never fly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Vo0k (760020) on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @07:09AM (#15291870) Journal
      > it takes roughly two to three times the fuel per km flown

      First class is roughly two times more expensive than economy class. This one charging ten times the economy class will still produce enough demand to fill all seats.

      > The sonic boom prevents any overflight of populated areas and even if significant noise reduction could be achieved the very small constituency for such a service would still see any residual boom noise used as an excuse by the general (and envious) public to restrict or outright ban such overflight

      Most of the route over ocean, no problem. The part over populated land can be either performed at altitudes where the residual boom (after active silencing, tech already present in fighter planes) reaching the ground will be unaudible - or travel at subsonic speeds over the land.

      > Exhaust emissions at 20km altitude (roughly double 10km of commercial jets) are of far greater environmental concern due to lower mixing rates with lower atmosphere

      So there will be just a few such planes. With prices this high there won't be all that much demand anyway... and with enough lobbying environment impact will just get forgotten. Not that I want it, it's just a realistic look at what happens.

      > Add to this the high costs of development,
      Government-funded, NASA plus JSA, come on...

      > relatively restricted range

      Half the Earth. Do you need more?

      >and limited routes

      Only routes where it would make sense. Really no need to fly supersonic from New York to Washington DC. It's not meant to replace current planes, it's just to fill a small niche where there's small but constant demand and no supply.

      > and you have a total non-starter.

      You have some not all that hard obstacles, no showstoppers.
      • The sonic boom prevents any overflight of populated areas and even if significant noise reduction could be achieved the very small constituency for such a service would still see any residual boom noise used as an excuse by the general (and envious) public to restrict or outright ban such overflight

        The sonic boom is a redherring thrown by the US airline industry when they lost the SST race. There are many cities in the US where sonic booms are (or used to be) routine. Tucson, Seattle, and anyother city wit
      • Most of the route over ocean, no problem. The part over populated land can be either performed at altitudes where the residual boom (after active silencing, tech already present in fighter planes) reaching the ground will be unaudible - or travel at subsonic speeds over the land.

        Um... As far as I know, a source-based active-silencing system will only make things worse. You can actively silence a relatively small space (even the cockpit of a fighter plane is a big space, acoustics-wise), but

        • > Um... As far as I know, a source-based active-silencing system will only make things worse. You can actively silence a relatively small space

          That's the case for classic noise reduction. This thing is not about responding with equal but opposite force but about distributing the wave over time, so that the front isn't a sharp spike in pressure but a gradual rise. The energy is same or slightly stronger, but by distributing it over time (even miliseconds) you reduce the sudden impact effect.
  • by rtobyr (846578) <toby.richards@net> on Tuesday May 09, 2006 @05:49AM (#15291644) Homepage
    I know this may be an unpopular point of view, but I recently flew to the Philippines with a layover in Taiwan. From San Francisco to Taiwan, it was a 14 hour flight. That sucked. It sucked big time. I don't know how much extra I'd have had to pay for a supersonic flight, but it may have been worth it. It would be interesting to know whether all the people posting comments about what a waste of money this is have ever flown nonstop to Asia.
    • From San Francisco to Taiwan, it was a 14 hour flight.

      The last time I went from Melbourne to Dublin it took me 30 hours. I don't like it but the business travelers who pay a lot of the running costs of airlines are using email, video conferencing and MS office documents instead of their expensive travel.

    • Well, at least in the short term, supersonic will be more than first class. Since first class would have made those 14 hours much more comfortable at only 2-4 times the price, and still cheaper than supersonic, you definitely paid for that right?
  • All this talk of supersonic passenger jets, great nice, but it will never be economically feasible, certainly not with the $100/barrel oil prices. What would be much more appreciated by the market and politicians is ultrasonic or anti-sonic jets. Anything that kills the noise of jets
    • Nope. There are people ready to pay enough to make it feasible. Increase price, increase unit profit, decrease number of potential customers, either increase or decrease total profit. I bet if they made 2-seat 6-mach fighter planes available for plain human transport across the ocean (pilot+1 passenger), there would be still enough demand to make it pay if the travel lasted 3h instead of 14. Likely impossible for military reasons, not economic.
    • With a plane that fast fuel costs are irrelevant - you just fill up and take off without paying at the pump. Who can catch you?

      Of course you can only fly out of each airport once before you have to repaint the plane to disguise it! Eventually all that extra paint will slow down the plane... hmmm maybe you are right. Oh! I know - don't use paint! They can change colors with sharpies!

  • For those who can afford it its great, for the vast majority of the world's population, they will never fly on it.
    Should taxpayers have to fund NASA supersonic jet projects that they will never fly on?

    Then again, the money is better spent here than say some new WMD.
  • Current scramjets are very small pilotless machines that fail half the time, don't work below mach 5 and are crashed on landing. It seems quite a lot of work needs to be dont to make a commercial scramjet. 2025 seems ambitious for getting it done.

    How do they intend to get the thing started? Can scramjets work at slower speeds with more development? Will they strap a load of booster rockets on the back?
  • Scramjets at Mach 5+ are nice, but what about the Unobtainium needed to actually build a large airframe that suports that kind of speed?
  • Why exactly is "Japan is looking for the next generation supersonic flight solution"? They didn't much use the one(s) before.
    • Where would they fly with a plane which couldn't cross the Pacific and which was loud enough to not be allowed to go supersonic over land? Australia? (Hm, and don't even think of Japanese planes going to Hawaii...)
  • So demand in Japan for a shorter trip to Saipan or Honolulu is so great that they're going to be developing a supersonic passenger jet because of it?

    Wouldn't it be cheaper for them to open up a few shooting ranges domestically for vacationers to go to, or do they also want to be able to practice their English on the locals while playing Dirty Harry?
    • The scramjet research for civilian transportation is a poor cover up for weapon research program. I mean getting something about the size of air-to-air missile is not technically feasible at this stage. Getting a 767 size scramjet is at least decades away. I doubt if it is a rational strategy for any country which cannot make a sizable passenger jet at this moment to take on such a massive project right at start. Most are probably aiming to or tracking the technology that can allow them to develop the n
      • "I doubt if it is a rational strategy for any country which cannot make a sizable passenger jet at this moment to take on such a massive project right at start."

        It's more rational than the largest aircraft carrier in the US Navy trying to develop its own weapons program. At the very least they'd amendmend their constitution first before trying to break into a defense market that's so completely dominated by American and European companies.

        "The military spending of Japanese government is second in the world

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