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Japan Air Self Defence Force - Modernization

Combat aircraft are the main equipment of the ASDF. About 430 combat aircraft were to be possessed under the 1976 National Defense Program Outline, but following the changes in the structure of the ASDF under the 1995 National Defense Program Outline, the number of combat aircraft was reduced to about 400. The number of interceptors will be reduced to about 300 from about 350.

The Defense Agency had been seeking to introduce in-flight refueling aircraft. In December 1999, the Security Council of Japan (SCJ) recommended that Japan introduce air tankers without delay in the next defense plan. The agency therefore worked out details about when and how many to introduce.

The JASDF is managing its the recapitalization and modernization of its own forces through programs such as the P-1 fixed wing patrol aircraft, SH-60K helicopter, F-15J and F-2 aircraft and weapons upgrades; and improved early-warning radar for the E-767.

JASDF forces have replaced its aging F-4J squadrons on Okinawa with F-15J fighter aircraft, giving the JASDF a more capable weapons platform in the region as well as introducing greater mutual cooperation and interoperability between US Air Force and JASF F-15 squadrons now co-located on the island.

Efforts in 2013 to improve warning and surveillance, and air defense capability in the airspace that encompasses the Southwestern Islands were not confined to the strengthening of equipment-related aspects, in the form of the acquisition of two next-generation fighter aircraft (F-35A), which have superior stealth capacity, the modernization and refurbishment of six F-15 fighter aircraft, and the improvement of the radar processing capability of airborne warning and control aircraft (E-767). These endeavors also include efforts to reinforce operational aspects, such as securing additional funding of approximately 13.5 billion yen to cover the running costs of the airborne warning and control aircraft (E-767) and the airborne early warning aircraft (E-2C).

On 23 November 2014 Japan's defense ministry chose the US-made Global Hawk as the country's first large scale reconnaissance drones. The plan was for 3 of the unmanned aircraft to be deployed to better monitor the military activities of neighboring countries. The defense ministry plans to start using the drones in fiscal 2019. They are considering deploying them in northeastern Japan at the Air Self-Defense Force Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture. The ministry also decided to buy 4 US-made E-2D early warning aircraft. The plane's radar can monitor a wider range than the 17 early warning aircraft currently in use.

The US State Department has approved a $1.7 billion sale of four E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft and associated parts to Japan, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement on 01 June 2015. “The proposed sale of E-2D AHE aircraft will improve Japan’s ability to effectively provide homeland defense utilizing an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability,” DSCA stated.

The statement explained the new aircraft will augment Japan’s existing E-2C Hawkeye fleet. The new aircraft will serve to provide Japan early warning and control situational awareness of air and naval activity in the Pacific.

The advanced Hawkeye is the newest version in the E-2 fleet designed to provide early warning surveillance of aircraft, surface and cruise missile threats to command centers and to warfighters. The US Navy refers to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye as the "digital quarterback" of the battlefield as it provides 360 degree radar, friend or foe identification as well as mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities. It also provides integrated communication networks with warfighters and command centers.

The government’s official aircraft for VIPs were decommissioned at the end of March 2019 after carrying prime ministers and Imperial family members for a quarter of a century. The aircraft, a special Boeing 747-400, went into use in 1993 along with a reserve plane. The jets had also been used for international assistance and humanitarian support activities, traveling to 100 countries and regions. Due to the 747’s advanced age, maintenance can no longer be carried out domestically. The aircraft were replaced by a special Boeing 777-300ER in April. The Air Self-Defense Force’s Special Airlift Group, based in Chitose, Hokkaido, manages and operates the aircraft.

The 777 civil aircraft is jointly developed under the international cooperation of Japan and the United States, in which Japan assumes approximately 20% of the work. MHI Group manufactures the aft fuselage panel, tail fuselage, and entry doors. The Boeing 777 marked its first flight in 1994. The outer diameter of the fuselage of Boeing 777 is 6.2m, the widest next to the 747.

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Page last modified: 24-03-2019 19:53:23 ZULU