J-HangarSpace

The Go-To Website for
Information on Japanese Aviation

www.j-hangarspace.jp

Loading Images
wpif2_loading
JASDF
JGSDF
JMSDF
Japan Coast Guard
Where Are They Now?
Location Reports
Aviation Museums
Doctor-Heli Network
Fire/Disaster Prevention
Police Aviation Units
Japanese Aviation History (to 1945)

JASDF Squadron Histories & Markings Part 3

 

This last part of the three-page coverage of JASDF squadron histories covers those elements that are or were designated primarily by role, as follows:

Unit Name Notes
Aggressor Squadron More common name for what is officially the Tactical Fighter Training Group 
Airborne Early Warning Control Group See Part 2, 602nd Sqn
Airborne Early Warning Surveillance Group See Part 2, 601st Sqn and 603rd Sqn
Air Defense Command HQ Squadron 1958–2014 (See under Regional Air Defense HQ Support Flight Groups [Central])
Air Development and Test Wing Formerly Air Proving Group/Wing
Air Rescue Training Squadron Under Air Rescue Wing command
Air Rescue Wing  
Air Rescue Squadrons See also Helicopter Airlift Squadrons
Air Tactics Development Wing Formed Aug. 2014, oversees Tactical Fighter Training Group (Aggressor Sqn),
Electronic Intelligence Squadron and
Electronic Warfare Squadron
Air Training Group See Part 2, 23rd Fighter Training Sqn
Air Transport Training Squadron C-46, YS-11 (c.1970–78)
Air Transport Wing 1958–1978
Central Air Defense HQ Support Flight Group 2014– (See under Regional Air Defense HQ
Support Flight Groups) 
Electronic Intelligence Squadron YS-11EB
Electronic Warfare Support Flight 1963–64 (EC-46D)
Electronic Warfare Support Squadron 1964– (EC-46D, YS-11EA, EC-1)
Flight Check Group  
Flying Training School 1954–55
Headquarters Squadron Now Central Air Defense HQ Support Sqn (see
under Regional Air Defense HQ Support Flight Groups) 
Helicopter Airlift Squadrons  Also referred to as Helicopter Air Transport Squadrons
Iruma Squadron See under Kisarazu Squadron.
402nd Sqn command unit 1968–1978
Iwo To Drone Operation Flight UF-104J/JA operations, 1992–97
Kisarazu Detachment 1958–59
Kisarazu Squadron 1959–1968
Kisarazu Training Squadron 1954–55
Miho Detachment 1955–58
Northern Air Defense HQ Support Squadron See under Regional Air Defense HQ Support Flight Groups
Provisional Air Training Flight 1956–58 (See under Regional Air Defense HQ Support Flight Groups [Central])
Provisional Matsushima Detachment 1954–55
Southwestern Air Defense HQ Support Squadron See under Regional Air Defense HQ Support Flight Groups 
Special Airlift Group See Part 2, 701st Sqn
Tachikawa Air Transport Group 1955
Tactical Fighter Training Group Aggressor Squadron
Western Air Defense HQ Support Squadron See under Regional Air Defense HQ Support Flight Groups 

 kh1crs(Photo: JASDF Komatsu AB)

 

Aggressor Squadron

 

Formed Dec. 17, 1981 (Tsuiki, T-2 and T-33A) 
Current Base Komatsu (Air Tactics Development Wing, F-15J/DJ and T-4) 
See under Tactical Fighter Training Group

 

Air Development & Test Wing

Formed  As Air Proving Group:
Dec. 1, 1955 (T-34A at Hamamatsu)

 As Air Proving Wing: April 11, 1974

 As Air Development & Test Wing: March 1989 

Current Base Gifu (Air Development & Test Command, various aircraft) 

Starting out in November 1955 as an operational test and evaluation unit offshoot of a research unit within the 1st Flying Training School at Hamamatsu, the Air Proving Group boasted 28 personnel and two T-34As at the time of its formation the following month. From assembly to delivery, the Group handled the Vampire that was its first jet, imported to assess the advantages and disadvantages of its side-by-side seating configuration, and had graduated to the utilization of F-86Fs by the following year. Examples of the T-6G and T-33A as well as a solitary T-28 were supplied, but as space was being taken up by the fighter units that were then in the process of forming, a move was made and the unit’s long residency at Gifu commenced on March 25, 1957.

During the period of F-86F operations, the aircraft assigned to the APG were regularly changed. The flight test programmes conducted on the type included the Japanese-designed XAAM-1 air-to-air missile and tactical air navigation (TACAN) equipment. Whereas the F-86F was to remain in APG service until late in 1971, a small number of F-86Ds were only operated for a short time. 

From January 1958, the APG took charge of the first flight of the T1F2 trainer (later the Fuji T-1), Japan’s first indigenously produced postwar jet aircraft, and then went on to conduct the test flight and acceptance testing programmes. Flight testing of an F-104J Starfighter commenced in 1962, but as Gifu possessed no expertise in the operation of the type, a detachment was sent to Chitose air base until 1966 to conduct all types of testing from there. Attended by four trainees, the first test pilot course (TPC) was commenced in 1969.

Having been renamed as the Air Proving Wing on April 11, 1974, to reflect its higher status, a succession of JASDF types—among them the F-4EJ, T-2 and C-1—continued to undergo initial and ongoing testing during the course of the 70s. Over the years, some types have undergone extended test programmes, others (such as the C-130H, U-4 and U-125) only brief periods of operational testing prior to service entry.

[ADDITIONAL TEXT IN PREPARATION]

GIFU CAVALCADE BY DECADE

Gifu opening flypast 2016It has become the tradition for a formation flypast of based aircraft to kick off the annual Gifu AB open
house event. This photo shows nine of the 10-aircraft delta formation flown to open the
October 2016 event.
(Photo: JASDF Gifu AB)

1950s

1956 de Havilland Vampire T.55 63-5571

JASDF Vampire T.55

Built at de Havilland’s Broughton factory in January 1956, this was the Vampire imported into Japan for evaluation in August of that year. Already withdrawn from active operations in January 1960, the aircraft was used for PR/recruitment purposes at SDF exhibitions, which included being parked next to a roller coaster at an event held at Tokyo’s Futako-Tamagawa Park in March 1963 (link), then passed to the 1st Technical School at Hamamatsu as an instructional airframe. It was then stored and occasionally given a public airing at Hamamatsu from the 1970s before being placed on permanent display at the JASDF Air Park at that base in March 2000.

1958 Fuji T1F2 (T-1A) 85-5801

ADTW T-1A(Photo [exact date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

The first new aircraft to be put through a test programme at Gifu was the T1F2 (later T-1A), which manufacturer Fuji had flown for the first time from its Utsunomiya facility on January 19, 1958.

1960s

1963 Lockheed F-104J Starfighter 36-8536

ADTW F-104J(Photo [exact date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Delivered in August 1963, F-104J ’536 spent its entire career with the then Air Proving Group/Wing. Following its withdrawal from use in April 1986, the airframe was acquired at some stage by the Kissa Hikōjō (Airfield Café) in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, which opened in December 1987. The aircraft’s nose section was still present in December 2016.

1970s

1971 McDonnell-Douglas F-4EJ Phantom II 17-8301

ADTW F-4EJ 301(Photo [exact date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Another aircraft that has enjoyed permanent residency at Gifu, the first F-4EJ was one of the pair that arrived in Japan from the McDonnell-Douglas factory in St. Louis, Missouri, in March 1971. (See 2016)

1971 Mitsubishi XT-2 19-5101

ADTW XT-2 (Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

First flown on July 20, 1971, the first prototype XT-2 was delivered to the then APG in December that same year. Having officially lost the ‘X’ in its designation on August 29, 1973, this T-2 went on to serve another 30 years before being retired early in 2003. On April 14, 2003, a ceremony was held to mark its addition to the aircraft on display at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagoya Aerospace Systems’ Komaki South Plant, where the exhibits from the adjoining museum were being relocated to within MHI’s Oe Plant during the course of 2018.

1972 Kawasaki C-1 28-1001 (originally 18-1001)

ADTW XC-1(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Having been flown for the first time on November 12, 1970, the XC-1 joined the Gifu test fleet in 1972. (See 2016)

1978 Fuji T-1B 05-5810

T-1B 810 APW(Photo [Misawa, Oct. 1978]: Akira Watanabe)

Delivered to the APG on November 30, 1960, the 10th T-1 built had been modified from T-1A to T-1B standard during manufacture. Seen in the natural metal finish that was standard at the time, this aircraft spanned the three iterations of the JASDF’s test establishment. Its last flight took place on March 2, 2006. (See AD&TW Special Markings/2005)

1978 Fuji T-3 81-5501

JASDF ADTW T-3(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Today stored at Shizuhama for display purposes, the first T-3 (Fuji KM-2B) made its maiden flight on January 17, 1978, and was passed to the APW later that year.

1980s

1980 McDonnell-Douglas F-15J Eagle 02-8801

JASDF ADTW F-15J 801(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

As the service second only to the U.S. Air Force in terms of the number of F-15s procured, the JASDF has conducted ongoing upgrade and weapons integration testing since the first pair arrived from manufacturer McDonnell-Douglas in 1980. Shown here, the first aircraft had completed its maiden flight on June 4 of that year. (See 2016)

1982 Mitsubishi T-2CCV 29-5103

ADTW T-2CCV(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Originally delivered in July 1972, the third prototype XT-2 (29-5103) was passed to the APW in April 1982 for conversion to T-2CCV (Control Configured Vehicle) standard. The fly-by-wire technology flight test programme lasted two years. Finally withdrawn from use on October 31, 2002, the aircraft was placed on loan display at Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum in December 2014. (See dedicated page on Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum)

1985 F-104J Starfighter 36-8549

ADTW F-104J 36-8549(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

Komatsu, May 19, 1985. This F-104J was delivered to the JASDF in October 1963 and was nearing the end of its service carrer when this photo was taken. Still wearing APW markings, the aircraft’s last home was a narrow enclosure in Sun Green Park (link) in what is now the city of Fukaya, Saitama Prefecture, from where it had been removed from display by 2005.

1985 Kawasaki EC-1 78-1021

EC-1 Hunini(Photo: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

Seen here on a return visit to Gifu in November 2008, the Kawasaki EC-1 was only temporarily assigned to the APW during its initial development. First flown on December 3, 1984, the aircraft was based at Gifu from late 1985 to June 1986, when passed to the then Electronic Warfare Support Squadron. 

1986 T-2 29-5102

APW T-2(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

Returning to its birthplace, the second T-2 is seen here at Komaki in November 1986. Originally delivered to the 4th Air Wing in Matsushima in March 1972, this aircraft also ended its service career with the APW and was placed—in natural metal finish save for blue APW tail markings—at a Gifu base monument, dedicated on December 1, 2005, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the AD&TW.

1986 Lockheed T-33A 61-5213

T-33A APW 1986(Photo [Komaki, Nov. 1986]: Akira Watanabe)

The test unit at Gifu operated a number of T-33As. This Kawasaki-built example was delivered to the JASDF in September 1956 and with the APW from at least 1983 up until its withdrawal from service at the end of January 1994.

1986 Boeing-Vertol CH-47J Chinook 66-4471

APW CH-47J(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

The first JASDF CH-47J was a pattern aircraft built by Kawasaki from a Boeing-supplied kit in 1986; the aircraft was eventually withdrawn from transport squadron use in October 2001.

1986 Kawasaki T-4 Prototypes 56-5601/66-5602 to ’604

APW T-4 trainers(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

A formation comprising the first four Kawasaki T-4 trainers, the production of which followed in quick succession after the flight of the prototype XT-4 on July 29, 1985. Including the museum-ripe prototype T-4 (link), all four were still in service with the AD&TW early in 2019.

1989 T-4 66-5602

JASDF T-4 602(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

A closer view of one of the aircraft in the formation photo above, the second T-4 built is seen here at Misawa in May 1989, the year that the Air Proving Wing was renamed the Air Development & Test Wing.

1990s

1991 Sikorsky UH-60J 18-4551 and ’552

JASDF ADTW UH-60J(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

The first JASDF UH-60J was handed over at Komaki on February 28, 1991, after which the first two aircraft underwent testing with the AD&TW.

1992  British Aerospace U-125 29-3041

JASDF ADTW U-125(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Delivered in December 1992, the first of the three U-125s acquired for navaid calibration was also initially assigned to the AD&TW. The other two aircraft followed in 1994 and 1995, after Raytheon’s acquisition of British Aerospace’s Business Jet Division in 1993.

1994 Beechcraft T-400 41-5052

JASDF ADTW T-400(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

The photo shows the second T-400 in the markings of the AD&TW. A total of 13 aircraft of this type were delivered over the 10-year period up to 2004. 

1994 C-1 28-1002

C-1 Schleiffert(Photo [Nov. 1994]: Rob Scheiffert)

The second prorotype C-1 spent a mere 40 years at Gifu following its delivery in 1972. Released to squadron service early in 2012, the aircraft was still active with the sole operator, the 401st Airlift Squadron at Iruma, late in 2018. 

1994 T-2 69-5133

T-2 Schleiffert(Photo [Nov. 1994]: Rob Schleiffert)

Formally handed over to the JASDF on November 1976, this T-2’s time at the AD&TW including its use as a chase plane during Mitsubishi F-2 crosswind landing trials.

1994 T-33A 71-5275

ADTW T-33A Schleiffert (Photo: [Nov. 1994]: Rob Schleiffert)

Originally delivered to the JASDF in June 1957, this Kawasaki-built example was based at Gifu in the 1980s and 90s. Placed in store after ending its service career at Chitose in May 1997, ’275 was finally broken up and disposed of in 2014.

1995 Raytheon (British Aerospace) U-125A 52-3001

JASDF ADTW U-125A(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Having undergone manufacturer’s testing in Cyprus in October 1994, when still carrying a British registration (link), the first of the 28 U-125As gradually procured by the JASDF—the last was delivered as recently as 2011—also underwent pre-service operational trials at Gifu.

1996 Mitsubishi F-2A 63-8501 (originally XF-2A 63-0001)

ADTW F-2A

Having flown for the first time on October 7, 1995, the first prototype Mitsubishi F-2A continues to be used for AD&TW test flights from Gifu AB. (Photos: [above] date unknown, JASDF Gifu AB; [below] October 2000)

f-2gifu

1996 Boeing E-767 64-3501

JASDF ADTW E-767(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

The first of four E-767s entered service in August 1996.

1997 Grumman U-4 75-3251

JASDF ADTW U-4(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Seen during its brief time with the AD&TW, the first of the five examples of this version of the Gulfstream IVSP that entered JASDF service.

2000s 

2000 FST-2Kai 59-5107

2000 FST-2Kai 59-5107

The seventh (pre-production) T-2 was the second of the two ground-support adaptations built. After testing carried out by Mitsubishi from Komaki, the aircraft was ferried to the APW in late August 1975. Retaining the trainer’s rear cockpit and canopy, the only external difference was the passive warning radar antenna housing atop the tailfin. Seen here at Gifu in October 2000, this aircraft was placed on display at Gifu in February 2017.

2002 Fuji T-7 26-5901 and ’902

JASDF ADTW T-7(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Then known as the T-3Kai, the first T-7 made its maiden flight on July 9, 2002. The first two aircraft were used for pre-service testing, and other examples of the total of 49 delivered up until September 2008 have occasionally been taken on strength at Gifu. These two aircraft were in line service with the 12th Flying Training Wing at Hofu AB in 2018.

2008 Boeing KC-767 87-3602

JASDF ADTW KC-767(Photo [date unknown]: JASDF Gifu AB)

Delivered in 2008, the initial pair of KC-767s was followed by another aircraft in each of the following two years.

2008 F-15J Eagle 12-8928

ADTW F-15J Hunini(Photo [Nov. 2008): Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

Initially assigned to squadron service, this F-15J had taken up a residency at the AD&TW by 2008 and, aside from return visits to Komaki for maintenance, has remained in service there to this day. The aircraft’s involvement in the F-15J modernization programme is evidenced by the infrared search and track (IRST) system housing on top of the nose.

2010s

2012 Kawasaki C-2 18-1202

XC-2 Gifu Hunini(Photo: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

The second prototype C-2 stands in front of Hangar No. 7 at a rain-swept Gifu in October 2012. Having flown for the first time on January 27, 2011, this aircraft was heavily modified for the electronic intelligence (ELINT) role, in which guise it first flew from Gifu on February 8, 2018. As shown here in August 2018 (link), some of the flight test programme is being conducted from Iruma, which will be its eventual home. 

F-4 JASDF Gifu(Above and below) Marking the major milestone in 2014, many of the AD&TW fleet sported the JASDF
60th anniversary logo on their fuselages or engine intakes.
(Photos [Oct. 2014]: Andy Binks)

T-4 JASDF Gifu

Gifu Open Day 2016

Gifu 2016 XC-2 Hunini(Photo: JASDF Gifu AB)

Alongside the comparative newcomer XC-2 (above), old stagers were much in evidence at the Gifu air show held in October 2016. (The following six photos: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

C-1FTB Hunini GifuThe C-1 prototype was re-designated the C-1FTB, standing for Flying Test Bed.

F-4EJ 17-8301 Gifu HuniniAt the time a 45-year-old veteran, the venerable first F-4EJ deploys its brake parachute after landing.
Like other Gifu-assigned Phantoms, ’301 was never upgraded to F-4EJ
Kai standard.

F-15J 02-8801 Gifu HuniniA mere 36 years after its arrival from McDonnell-Douglas in 1980, the first F-15J was
also present on the Gifu flight line.

JASDF TACOM UAV(1001)(Above and below) The Gifu AB open house events provide an opportunity to see other hardware that is
or has been undergoing testing. The F-15J above has a sharkmouth-adorned TACOM UAV on its
starboard inboard pylon beneath a Type 90 air-to-air missile (AAM-3). Seen sharing a pylon
with Type 04 (AAM-5) short-range missiles, the UAV below sports a digital pixelated 
camouflage scheme; note the SUBARU Corporation logo on the engine intake blank.

JASDF TACOM UAV (1004)

F-2A drop tankA 2,300-litre (600 U.S. gallon) drop tank fitted to AD&TW F-2A ’514 for test purposes. In contrast, the
nearby Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum includes an exhibit on the local girls’  high school
that produced wooden 200-litre (53 U.S. gallon) drop tanks for the Hien fighter during World War II.

2017 Mitsubishi X-2 Advanced Technology Demonstrator 51-0001

X-2 (51-0001) Gifu Hunini(Photo [Nov. 2017]: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

A Ministry of Defense project, the X-2 landed at Gifu at the end of its first flight from Komaki, on April 22, 2016, and has been stored there since the end of its series of data-gathering flights, which were carried out with an AD&TW T-4 chase plane in attendance. The pitot tube that was mounted on the nose for its flight test programme has been removed. (This aircraft was on display again in November 2018.)

APG / APW / AD&TW Tail Markings
As worn by Air Development & Test Wing aircraft to this day, the marking of what was then the Air Proving Group first appeared in July 1964, having been created by a member of the maintenance team. The design comprised a black, arrowhead-shaped sonic boom shock wave and an orbiting artificial satellite, which were very evocative symbols of the scientific age in the late 50s and 60s. Examples of the F-86F, F-104J and T-1 (undated link) also carried the abbreviation ‘APG’, and in its day ‘APW’, but with the exception of special markings this practice ceased with the advent of the AD&TW.

On occasion in the past, aircraft carried the initials ‘TRDI’ on their tails, to indicate testing being conducted at the behest of the Technical Research and Development Institute arm of the Japan Defense Agency (since 2015 the Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency of the Japan Ministry of Defense.)

AD&TW SPECIAL MARKINGS

2005 AD&TW 50th Anniversary  T-1B 05-5810

T-1B AD&TW 50th anniversary(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The 10th T-1 built in the special markings applied for the AD&TW’s 50th anniversary in 2005. Retired on March 2 the following year—the same day as the AD&TW’s T-2 59-5107 flew for the last time—this aircraft has been on display loan to the nearby Gifu-Kakamigahara Air and Space Museum since January 2007.

November 2017 Gifu City 450th Anniversary  T-4 66-5602

T-4 (66-5602) Gifu Hunini

Three of the four T-4s that made up the four-aircraft formation photographed in 1986 were present at the Gifu open house event in November 2017. One featured a tail marking (below) featuring the logo for プロジェクト(Project) GIFU CITY, a tourism promotion campaign commemorating the city of Gifu’s 450th anniversary. In 1567, the famous local warlord Nobunaga Oda (1534–1582) changed the name of Inoguchi to Gifu*, elevating the village to town status in the process. The 信長公 means Lord Nobunaga, and the ‘0’ in よんごーまる (‘450’) contains the cross section of a gourd that formed a mon (crest) of the Oda clan. (Photos: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

* As an historical aside, the “gi” in Gifu was taken from Qishan, the mountain in China where Wen Wang (1112–1050 BC) set out to establish the Zhou Dynasty, laying the foundations for 800 years of peace. The “fu” refers to Qufu, the birthplace of the revered Chinese philosopher Confucius (551–479 BC). The name now shared by a city and prefecture thus stems from Oda’s desire to make his region a peaceful place of learning, which the AD&TW at least in part maintains.

T-4 tail Gifu 2017

November 2018 Anime TV Series Tie-in  F-15J 12-8928 / 32-8942; F-15DJ 12-8078

Masotan JASDF F-15J(Photo: JASDF Gifu AB)

At the Gifu base event in November 2018, at least three aircraft were decorated with blue “eyes” on their noses. These are a reference to an anime television series called Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan, which is set at Gifu AB. One of the aircraft, on static display in a hangar, had its real serial (12-8928) changed to that of an aircraft in the anime, ’02-8999’.

JASDF Gifu flight line(Photo [Oct. 2016]: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

Air Rescue Wing
(and Squadrons)

Formed As Provisional Air Rescue Sqn: Mar. 18, 1958 (Hamamatsu)
As Air Rescue Squadron: Oct. 1, 1958
As Air Rescue Group: July 15, 1961
Air Rescue Wing: March 1, 1971 
Current Bases (See chart below) 

The nascent JASDF formed a provisional search and rescue (SAR) unit at Hamamatsu on March 18, 1958, which was granted full squadron status on October 1, 1958.

IMG_7689crsDisplayed as part of a base history exhibit in a hangar at the Hamamatsu air show in September 2014, 
this photo shows a mishap that befell a rescue H-19C in a field south of the base in the early 1960s.
Happily, having been delivered to the JASDF in July 1959, this aircraft was repaired and remained
in service until January 1973. After a period on display as part of a now defunct private collection
in Gifu Prefecture, this aircraft was returned to Hamamatsu and in April 1999 placed on display
in the JASDF Air Park collection, where it has remained in pristine condition to this day.

Having moved its HQ from Hamamatsu to Iruma on July 1, 1960, the expansion of the JASDF dictated the air rescue organization’s elevation to group status on July 15, 1961, and to wing status on March 1, 1971.

As listed in chronological order below, 12 detachments were formed between February 1959 and March 1987. In Japanese, these were initially designated Kyūnan Bunkentai from February 1, 1959 to November 30, 1964, and Kyūnantai from December 1, 1964, at which time eight were already in existence.

Formed at Hamamatsu on October 1, 1958, an Air Rescue Training Squadron (Kyūnan Kyoikutai) moved to Komaki on March 1, 1971, negating the need for that base to retain its dedicated unit, which disbanded that same day.

JASDF Ashiya MU-2SIn what would have been a welcome sight to many people in distress at sea, an Ashiya-based MU-2S 
makes a low pass as a precursor to the arrival of a KV-107 rescue helicopter.
(Photo [Tsuiki, Nov. 1985]: Takao Kadokami)  

Formation of Air Rescue Squadrons
(in chronological order)
Base Date  Formed Base Date Formed
Chitose Feb. 1, 1959 Ashiya Dec. 1964
Komaki May 15, 1959* Hyakuri Nov. 20, 1965
Nyutabaru Mar. 1, 1960 Niigata Dec. 15, 1966
Matsushima Sept. 20, 1960 Hamamatsu Mar. 1, 1971
Komatsu Mar. 1, 1961 Naha Oct. 16, 1973
Iruma Jan. 25, 1963** Akita Mar. 31, 1987

* Disbanded Mar. 1, 1971, due to relocation of training unit
** Disbanded Oct. 1, 1968
Those squadrons highlighted in orange were initially formed either as detachments or provisional units. (See individual ARS histories below.)

IMG_0038crsAn ARW KV-107IIA-5 and UH-60J on a murky day at Gifu in October 2000. A protracted process, the
changing of the guard, by which KV-107II/MU-2S pairings were replaced by UH-60J/U-125As
acting in concert, was initiated in the early 1990s but not completed until 2009.

Aircraft Operated by JASDF ARW Units
H-19C 1958–1971 H-21B 1960–1966 MU-2S 1967–2008
T-6G 1958–1970 S-62J 1963–1983 UH-60J 1991–
T-34A 1958–1982 KV-107 1967–2009 U-125A 1995–

 AIR RESCUE SQUADRONS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER BY BASE

AKITA 
(Formed as Provisional Akita Detachment Jan. 29, 1987,
as Akita ARS Mar. 31, 1987)

Akita ARS 25th 2012In 2012, the unit’s 25th anniversary year, the two Akita ARS aircraft overfly Lake Tazawa, the
deepest in Japan, which is used for training exercises.
(JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

After a two-month existence as the Provisional Akita Detachment, which was established on January 29, 1987, by far the youngest JASDF ARW unit was officially given full squadron status on March 31, 1987. Formed to enhance the search and rescue (SAR) cover on that stretch of the Sea of Japan coast and throughout northern Honshu, the unit’s initial equipment—the then standard pairing of an MU-2S and a KV-107IIA-5—had arrived three weeks before, on March 11.

JASDF Akita ARS MU-2SThe stalwart MU-2S remained in service with the Akita ARS for 15 years. The first arrived in March
1987, and the unit bade farewell to the last example
(below) in February 2002. 
(Photos: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

JASDF Akita MU-2S last fligh

In that first year of operations, missions ranged from reconnaissance flights over forest fires in April and searching for missing persons at a beach swimming area in July and August to rescuing the crew of a trawler that had run aground in November 1987.

The unit’s operations have naturally covered the full gamut of missions normally associated with an SAR unit. Aside from going to the assistance of those in peril on or near the sea, the unit is called upon for more offbeat duties. In January 1989 for example, flights were dispatched to provide situation reports of the mudflow in the vicinity of the crater following signs of volcanic activity on Mt. Chokai in southern Akita Prefecture.

A major operation in the early years resulted in the rescue of a 12-person ski party that had found itself in difficulties on Mt. Nyuto in March 1995.

JASDF Akita KV-107Equipped with the KV-107IIA-5 since its formation, the Akita ARS relinquished its last
example 20 years later, in 2007.
(Photo: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

In July 1997, the local ARS took part in the Akita Defense Festival. Due to bad weather at Hamamatsu, the planned display by the Blue Impulse had to be cancelled, and so the Akita ARS gave a demonstration of a KV-107II performing a sea rescue instead (link). The landmark Akita Port Tower Selion had been open since April 1994 (link).

In November 2000, Akita ARS took part in the rescue a Misawa-based U.S. Air Force pilot following a collision involving two F-16s during Exercise Keen Sword. In April 2002, the unit was also called upon to assist in the successful rescue of another F-16 pilot, who had ejected after experiencing an engine failure.

In between those incidents, the U-125A was introduced on March 27, 2001, and the MU-2S made its last flight on February 21 the following year. The first UH-60J was supplied on March 22, 2004, and the rotorcraft complement temporarily increased to three with the arrival of another UH-60J on November 1, 2005. The KV-107IIA-5 soldiered on until its last flight, which took place on September 10, 2007; see the Akita entry under JASDF Base Histories.

In late October 2004, the Akita ARS was one of the units that participated in the disaster relief operations that followed a series of earthquakes in the Chuetsu region of Niigata Prefecture. Claiming the lives of 68 people, injuring thousands and forcing 100,000 from their homes, this had been the largest seismic event to strike Japan since the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.

DoJ 2005 Akita ARS(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense)

An interview with a crew member, Technical Sgt. Yamazaki (above), appeared in the white paper Defense of Japan 2005. When asked about any difficulties he encountered on what was his first disaster relief operation, he replied that his natural sense of unease at his “baptism of fire” was compounded by the lack of detailed information about the affected areas. As many of those in need of rescue were anxious elderly people, the rescue mission took a lot more time than he had expected.

The first steps to extend the radius of helicopter rescue operations by in-flight refueling were taken in the spring of 2009, when there were already plans for the JASDF to add a KC-130H Hercules/UH-60J capability. Major Eiji Sekine of the Akita ARS was one of the first four JASDF helicopter pilots to undergo training with the U.S. Air Force’s 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena AB, Okinawa Prefecture. After a day’s ground school, each pilot received two hours of hands-on procedural flight training in daylight on an HH-60G Pave Hawk with the USAF and U.S. Marine Corps providing the Hercules tankers.

It was in 2008 that the Akita ARS started to make the change from the UH-60J’s original yellow and white colour scheme to the blue camouflage scheme. A blogger attending the regional training meet for the Hokkaido and Tohoku block in October of that year photographed the old (link) and the new (link) schemes. The Akita ARS had been involved in another disaster relief operation only four months before, when crews had airlifted to hospital some of those injured by the Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake.

The Japanese-language website of Akagi Kougyou Co., Ltd. (http://www.akagi-aaa.co.jp), a Tokyo-headquartered supplier of specialized clothing and other products to the Self-Defense Forces, includes a series of reports on visits made in recent years to air rescue squadrons. That to the Misawa sub-base of Akita, which was then under the command of Col. Takeshi Nakazawa, was made in July 2014.

Although air rescue squadrons normally have a staff of around 80, those at Akita and Niigata have 200 personnel, because their role as self-contained sub-bases necessitates having their own related sections, such as supply, security, accounting and facility management. Whereas ARSs at major bases are able to focus on their rescue role, these two sub-bases are also tasked with performing their own base operations, such as the airlift of personnel and materiel.

The three conjoined prefectures on that stretch of the Sea of Japan coast—Yamagata, Niigata and Akita—rank one to three, respectively, in terms of annual snowfall; in Akita, it is not unusual for it to snow heavily as late as May. The Akagi reporter was informed that conditions can pose problems and take a while to get used to for those unit members born and raised outside Japan’s snow regions.

Akita ARS U-125A in snowDespite the conditions, an Akita ARS U-125A is made ready for departure on a training flight. Keeping 
the runway clear of snow involves the efficient utilization of base personnel and equipment, and the
goal is to finish snow clearing within an hour.
(Photo: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

As if snow were not enough to contend with, the region has a high incidence of thunder and lightning in autumn and winter. Although a self-contained base, one facility not at their direct disposal is weather radar; meteorological information is provided from the parent base at Misawa and from the adjoining Akita airport.

A page on the Akita Sub-Base website (link) includes no less than 18 interviews with personnel engaged in a wide variety of base occupations. Dating back to November 2013, on the U-125A flight operations side they feature a ground crewman and a radio operator (RO), on the UH-60J side a flight engineer (FE) and rescuer.

According to the unit’s website, as at January 12, 2016, the Akita ARS had been deployed on disaster prevention missions on 106 occasions, and its running total of the number of people rescued stood at 415. A chronological overview of some of the missions conducted in recent years is set out below.

January 5, 2010. The Akita ARS conducts the emergency airlift of a crew member in need of medical treatment from a tanker anchored off the port of Funakawa.

akita18crs

March 2011 (above). The unit is naturally part of the mass mobilization of first responders and disaster relief units in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. (Photo [Mar. 13, 2011]: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

akita19crs

October 7, 2011. Rescues avalanche victims on Mt. Iwate in neighbouring Iwate Prefecture. (Photo: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

akita21crs

March 2, 2012. A child suffering from pneumonia following a liver transplant is emergency airlifted from Akita airport to a specialist hospital in Tokyo. (Photo: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

akita22crs

February 21, 2013. At the request of the Japan Coast Guard (JCG), which had received a distress signal, the Akita ARS scrambles both its UH-60Js. In an operation coordinated with the Niigata ARS, the unit rescues the 12 crew members (three South Korean and nine Chinese nationals) of a Cambodian-registered freighter who were drifting in a life raft 300 kilometres off Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture. (Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense)

March 15–18, 2013. An aerial search is made for a powered glider that had taken off from Memanbetsu airport, Hokkaido Prefecture, and failed to arrive at its destination, Shikabe airfield. On the morning of the third day of the search, the crew of an Akita ARS UH-60J spots the wreckage of the glider on Mt. Satsunai in the Hidaka mountain range and rescues its two former occupants.

January 31, 2014. An urgent medical case arises on board the Panamanian-registered chemical/oil tanker Southern Dragon while at anchor off the port of Funakawa. Bad weather forces back a JCG helicopter launched from Sendai and, as a result, the Akita ARS receives a request from the JCG to immediately scramble a UH-60J. The medical case, a Filipino crewman, is winched aboard and airlifted to Akita airport.

akita25crs

December 23, 2014. A Panamanian-registered vessel ends up beached eight kilometres south of the port of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture. The initial rescue mission involves JCG aircraft from Niigata and Sendai air stations, but this plan has to be abandoned due to the snow clearing status at both bases and poor weather en route. Consequently, Akita ARS dispatches a U-125A and UH-60J and airlifts 10 of the vessel’s 18-man crew, all of whom are from Myanmar, to safety at Shonai airport, Yamagata Prefecture. The other eight are rescued by the Yamagata Prefectural Disaster Prevention Aviation Unit. (Photo: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

akitaARSairlift151020crs

October 20, 2015. Due to the deteriorating condition of an already hospitalized infant suffering from a congenital disease, the Akita Prefecture governor grants permission for an emergency airlift. An Akita ARS UH-60J is dispatched to convey the patient direct to a specialist medical facility in Tokyo. (Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense)

akitaARSrescue160110crs

January 10, 2016. The Panama-registered cargo ship City runs aground on a breakwater close to Miyaumi beach in the city of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, and the numbers involved in the ensuing rescue operation require that the Akita ARS U-125A and a UH-60J work in concert with a JCG helicopter. All 18 of the ship’s Russian and Bangladeshi crew are hoisted to safety without injury, 10 of them being picked up by the Akita ARS UH-60J. (Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense)

hutto3crsThe pilots of an Akita ARS UH-60J receive the thumbs up from a ground crew member at the start of
exercise Cope Angel 17 at a rainswept Misawa AB on August 9, 2017. Their brief for this 
simulated mission involved the recovery and return to Misawa of a downed pilot.

(Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto, 35th FW Public Affairs)

October 18, 2017. Tragically, a Hamamatsu ARS UH-60J crashes into the sea around 30 kilometres south of its base when on a night training exercise on the evening of October 17. The Akita ARS is among the JASDF and JCG elements that continue an ultimately fruitless search for survivors from the four-man crew through to the afternoon of the following day.

April 9, 2019. As the accident occurred within its operational area, the Akita ARS was naturally one of several units involved in the search for the pilot of an F-35A that crashed while on a night training flight from Misawa. The first pieces of wreckage were recovered by an Akita UH-60J crew just over two hours after the accident.

JASDF Akita ARW namahage(Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

For its marking, the squadron adopted the bogeyman-like namahage of local folklore. On New Year’s Eve, fake knife-wielding masked men dressed as namahage are invited to make house-to-house visits in a (for some) terrifying search for lazy or badly behaved children. This to Western eyes hardly positive image for a search and rescue unit gained credence in 2018 when UNESCO added the namahage in the city of Oga, Akita Prefecture, to its tourism-boosting intangible cultural heritage list. (Namahage have been on the Japanese list of now more than 300 Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties since 1978.)

More befitting of the Akita ARS is the namahage’s association, since time immemorial, with the bestowing of blessings to ward off calamities in all their forms. In having chosen this deep-rooted local symbol, the thinking was that the unit, long before the UNESCO listing, could assist in handing down this aspect of local culture from generation to generation. As described on the unit’s website, the two colours on and around the face, red and blue, symbolize mutual cooperation among the unit’s various elements in safely carrying out its mission.

AKITA ARS SPECIAL MARKINGS

akita7a(25thanniv)(Above and below) Not surprisingly, the Akita ARS’s namahage marking featured prominently in the
design selected for the unit’s 25th anniversary in 2012.  Another view of the U-125A can be
found here
(link)(Photos: JASDF Akita Sub-Base)
Akita UH-60J 25th

October 2017 30th Anniversary/Aviation Day  U-125A 12-3017 (link) /
UH-60J II 68-4600 (link)
Held the day after the official base 30th anniversary ceremony, the Aviation Day event enabled members of the public to get a close look at the markings, which had resulted from an intrasquadron call for design ideas. The winning design primarily comprised a hatahata, a species of sandfish for which Akita is famous, with blue waves. Also on the U-125A’s fuselage were a yellow flash and the words Air Rescue AKITA in blue, while the inscription 30th Anniversary in red outlined in white and a namahage mask (link) had been added to the tail; its engines also sported two blue waves (link).

The UH-60J II had had the inscription and mask applied to its tanks, and the fuselage markings were grouped together on the rear of the cabin fuselage (link). To make them stand out against the dark blue camouflage scheme, the fish and waves had been changed to white.

JASDF Akita poster 2018The ARW motto featured prominently on the poster used to publicize the 2018 open house event.
Poor weather on the day limited the flying display to a UH-60J rescue demonstration,
which can be viewed on YouTube
(link). (JASDF Akita Sub-Base)

ASHIYA
(Formed as Air Rescue Detachment July 15, 1961,
as Ashiya ARS on Dec. 1 1964)

IMG_0003Crs(Above and below) The MU-2S and KV-107A-5 resident with the Ashiya ARS in late September 2000
IMG_0007crs

Following the U.S. government’s complete return of Ashiya to Japanese control at the end of 1960, a JASDF air rescue detachment (the sixth) was formed at the base on February 1, 1961, the same day that the Air Rescue Squadron in overall command was re-designated the Air Rescue Group. Full ARS status came to the Ashiya unit on December 1, 1964. Its 120 personnel were initially provided with four T-34As, two H-21Bs and an H-19B.

T-34A Ashiya JASDFThe nascent JASDF’s initial fixed-wing SAR aircraft was the T-34A Mentor. This example was 
photographed at Ashiya in March 1973.
(Photo: Akira Watanabe)

During its early years, Ashiya H-21Bs were unfortunately involved in two major accidents. The first, which claimed 10 lives, occurred in thick fog in the mountains near the town of Takuma, in the Mitoyo district of Kagawa Prefecture, on March 16, 1963. On September 10 the following year, eight of the 11 occupants were killed when the helicopter came down in a rice field in the Kasuya district of Fukuoka Prefecture.

Changes were made to its assigned fixed-wing aircraft in 1968 (arrival of the first MU-2S) and 1971 (T-34A retirement). By the time the last MU-2S was retired in 2002, the unit had previously operated three types of helicopter—the H-21B (1961–68), the H-19B (1961–71) and the S-62J (1968–71)—and the fourth, the KV-107IIA-5, was to bow out the following year. The current equipment, the UH-60J and U-125A, commenced operations in June 2001 and May 2002, respectively.

Ashiya ARS 50th annivAt the time of its 50th anniversary in March 2012, the unit had 84 personnel and was equipped with
two U-125As and three UH-60Js.
(Photo: JASDF Ashiya AB)

kunren_3crsAs part of ongoing readiness training, an Ashiya-based UH-60J hovers above the
helicopter deck of the JMSDF
Murasame-class destroyer Akebono during a
joint exercise in July 2012.
(Photo: JASDF Ashiya AB)

When the Akagi Kougyo company visited in July 2013, the emergency airlift from the remote island of Mishima was happening roughly once every two months, the Ashiya ARS having assumed the mantle previously worn by the JMSDF’s Ozuki Rescue Flight prior to its move to Omura in Nagasaki Prefecture.

As at December 15, 2017, the Ashiya ARS had been dispatched on 267 disaster-relief missions; as at July 15, 2011, the figure stood at 238, plus 52 air rescues. Typical examples of the missions that the unit has undertaken in recent years include the following:

June 2010. Airlift of five people from the tiny island of Yakatajima, off the city of Saiki, Oita Prefecture.

January 2011. The search for a Cessna that had departed Kumamoto airport on the evening of January 4 ends with the discovery of wreckage in the mountains near Ozu. The accident claimed the lives of the doctor private pilot and his wife.

March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The Ashiya ARS is drafted in to assist with SAR, airlift and reconnaissance operations during disaster relief operations.

In the course of 2013 is called upon to airlift seven hospital cases in Yamaguchi Prefecture; seven from the island of Mishima to Hagi, and one from Mishima to Hofu. (Had airlifted 18 and four cases, respectively, in the period 2008 to 2012.)

September 1, 2015. Joins in search for the crew of a fishing boat, one of six that have capsized on the same day, off Tsunoshima, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The ship’s captain is rescued, but no trace of the rest of the crew is found.

April 2016. In the aftermath of a series of earthquakes that struck Kumamoto, the Ashiya ARS undertakes reconnaissance missions and the airlift of water and other essential supplies.

December 7, 2016. Assists in the search for a U.S. Marine Corps pilot who is found to have lost his life when he ejected from his F/A-18 Hornet off Tosashimizu, Kochi Prefecture, during a night exercise.

July 2017 Heavy Rainfall in Northern Kyushu

saiha-b2crsAn Ashiya crew lands in the Ono district of Hita, Oita Prefecture, to assess the situation after the area was
cut off by severe flooding and landslides caused by torrential rainfall. The unit comes to the assistance of
a total of 78 people during the course of this operation.
(Photo: JASDF Ashiya AB)

saiha-b8crsDuring the same rescue operation, another Ashiya crew sets down to await orders in the
Ibome district of Asakura, Fukuoka Prefecture.
(Photo: JASDF Ashiya AB)

October 22, 2017. In response to a request made by the Yamaguchi prefectural governor to the commander of the Ashiya-based 3rd Technical School, a UH-60J is dispatched to airlift a patient from the JASDF Mishima Sub-Base to the Kozoe River Park and hospitalization in Hagi.

ashiya171022crs(Photo [JASDF Mishima Sub-Base, Oct. 22, 2017]: JASDF Ashiya AB)

April 9, 2018. An Ashiya-based UH-60J is used to gather damage information on the areas affected by an earthquake that strikes Shimane Prefecture.

December 6–11, 2018. Ashiya U-125A and UH-60J crews work in conjunction with their ARS counterparts at Hamamatsu and Nyutabaru as well as with the Japan Coast Guard and U.S. and Australian units in a protracted and extensive search operation. Five crew members of a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J were declared missing after a nighttime midair collision with an F/A-18 Hornet south of Cape Muroto, Kochi Prefecture; only one of the latter’s two-man crew survived. The search was finally called off early on December 11.

ASHIYA ARS SPECIAL MARKINGS

Feb.-Mar. 2012 Ashiya ARS 50th Anniversary U-125A 52-3001 (link) / UH-60J 18-4592

Ashiya ARS badgeTaking its inspiration from the unit’s tiger marking ( (left, from the Ashiya AB website), the unusual “exploded” design used for the U-125A (link) featured a tiger’s face, front paws and claws as well as ‘Ashiya’ in between the small fuselage windows. Having formerly adopted a cartoon design incorporating a drum (link) from the local Kokura Gion festival—the ‘6’ on the drum being a reference to the 6th Rescue Zone of which Ashiya ARS was then a part—the current marking was influenced by two paintings that had been placed at the entrance to Kokura Castle in the early 1960s. The engine intakes featured the silhouettes and years in service of the unit’s three fixed-wing types: T-34A (1961–1971), MU-2 (1969–2002) and U-125A (2002–).

  Ashiya UH-60J 50th anniv(Photo: JASDF Ashiya AB)

Surprisingly, J-HangarSpace has been unable to find any detailed images of the specially marked UH-60J (above). Held on March 3, 2012, the base anniversary ceremony was featured in the May 2012 issue of the now defunct Air World. The article shows that this aircraft also carried silhouettes, in this case in white of the helicopter types the Ashiya ARS has operated alongside their years in service. The inscription ‘50th Anniversary’ (in red and yellow, respectively) was carried on the fuel tanks.

Ashiya U-125A TsuikiAn Ashiya ARS U-125A in standard markings
(Photo [Tsuiki, Oct. 2012]: ‘Amayagan’ via Wikimedia Commons)

 CHITOSE
(Formed as Chitose Rescue Detachment: Feb. 1, 1959,
as Chitose ARS Dec. 1, 1964)

photo16crsA Chitose-based U-125A deploys a signal flare canister specially designed for airdrops during maritime
rescue operations. Weighing 7kg (around 15lbs), this type is made by a Tokyo-based company
called Hosoya Pyro-Engineering.
(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

In the case of Chitose, nearly six years were to elapse between its formation as the first JASDF’s air rescue detachment on February 1, 1959, and its re-designation as an air rescue squadron December 1, 1964. It was during that time, on July 15, 1961, that its parent organization changed its name for the first time, from Air Rescue Squadron to Air Rescue Group.

The unit received its first UH-60J in July 1992, but tragedy was to strike on December 2, 1994, when an aircraft of this type crashed on Mt. Yurappu. The ill-fated crew, all five of whom perished, had been en route to the island of Okushiri on an emergency patient airlift mission.

A photo in a report in the July 2009 issue of Kōkū Fan magazine shows that, as at March 10 in that its 50th anniversary year, the Chitose ARS had rescued 43 people on 43 air rescue missions and 389 people in the course of 198 disaster relief missions; a cumulative total of 175 emergency airlift missions had also been carried out. As at April 1 that year, the unit had surpassed 25,200 accident-free flying hours. Coinciding with the anniversary, a monument inscribed with the Japanese for “Lest We Forget”—and including one of the joysticks from UH-60J ’554—was erected in the entrance lobby of the squadron building in memory of the crew members who had lost their lives in the line of duty in the 1994 accident.

The vast majority of Chitose ARS operations involve the emergency airlift of patients and casualties to hospital. For example, the Air Rescue Wing website outlines eight missions in 2018 and five in the first three months of 2019 alone; all of the missions in 2018 and two of those in 2019 involved the use of a U-125A, a type that first entered service with the unit in March 1996.

180406chitosecrsA Chitose-based U-125A is used to airlift an emergency hospital case from Hakodate airport to
Okadama airport. 
(Photo [Apr. 6, 2018]: Japan Ministry of Defense/Air Rescue Wing)

From September 6 to October 14, 2018, the Chitose ARS worked in conjunction with the Iruma- and Misawa-based heavy-lift helicopter units in responding to the Hokkaido Eastern Iburi Earthquake.

CHITOSE ARS SPECIAL MARKINGS

August 2007 Chitose AB 50th Anniversary   U-125A 52-3023 (link) / UH-60J 38-4557 (link)

ChitoseU-125AOkadama141007(100yenviaWC)(Photo: 100yen via Wikimedia Commons)

As reported in the October 2007 issue of Kōkū Fan magazine, the specially decorated Chitose ARS U-125A (above) made a big impression, at little cost to the taxpayer, at that year’s air show. The aircraft carried cut-out sticker versions of the base’s 50th anniversary Hokkaido map emblem on its fuselage and of the official logo on its tail; ‘Hokkaido’ appeared on a stripe at the top of the tailfin. An otherwise standard yellow UH-60J had the logo badge towards the rear of green-painted tanks and the earlier version of the unit badge, a map of Hokkaido carried in a sling, towards the front.

April/August 2009 Chitose ARS 50th Anniversary  U-125A 52-3002 (link) / UH-60J 18-4574 (link)
Befitting of the Chitose ARS’s 50th anniversary, an aircraft of each type was decked out in a striking colour scheme in time for the official ceremony, which was held in April 2009. The unit badge had newly had the face of an owl—to be exact a Blakiston’s fish owl, a species native to Hokkaido—and a red cross, showing Chitose’s location, added within the map of the island prefecture. Both aircraft carried the silhouette of an owl in white on their tails.

UH-60J photo22crsThe UH-60J that was specially painted for the Chitose ARS 50th anniversary in standard markings.
(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense/JASDF)

HAMAMATSU
(Formed: Mar. 1, 1971)

IMG_0308crsThe last JASDF KV-107IIA-5 in a typical pose during its final display at Iruma on November 3, 2009.
Delivered to the service early in March 1987, the aircraft had been on a sayonara tour in 2009 and
completed its final air rescue display at its Hamamatsu base four days before, on October 30.

IMG_7692crsThe first KV-107II for Hamamatsu, a KV-107II-5, arrives at the base in 1971. This aircraft was destined
to be written off while assigned to the Komatsu ARS in May 1978.

The Hamamatsu detachment was formed as a knock-on effect of the relocation of the Iruma training unit to Komaki. The ousted former Komaki detachment moved to Hamamatsu on March 1, 1971, the very day on which the Air Rescue Group was itself renamed the Air Rescue Wing.

[ADDITIONAL TEXT IN PREPARATION]

Torrential rainfall and flooding on September 10, 2015, initially involved a major mobilization of JGSDF units but resulted in a Hamamatsu ARS UH-60J working alongside a U-125A and UH-60J from the Hyakuri ARS. On September 10 that year, a special rain warning was issued in parts of Ibaraki Prefecture and the situation deteriorated when the Kinu River burst its banks. Operating in the Motoishige district of the worst-hit city of Joso until sunset, the crews succeeded in airlifting 90 stranded people to the safety of a park area. A repeat performance from sunrise to sunset the following day increased the total number of people airlifted to 141 before two days on standby in bad weather was followed by the ARS operation being called off on September 13.

Sadly, this unit’s recent history has been overshadowed by the loss of the second of the JASDF’s modernized UH-60J-IIs on October 17, 2017, during a training exercise involving the wearing of night vision goggles (NVG). A search operation was set in motion after radar contact was lost only 10 minutes after departure, and flotsam found that same night, but it was not until an underwater search and salvage operation was conducted in November and December that the bodies of three of the four crew members and the wreckage of the aircraft, complete with its flight data and cockpit voice recorders, could be recovered. Published in a press release issued on February 14, 2018, the combination of factors that led to the accident was found to have been insufficient confirmation of the aircraft’s altitude and sink rate due to loss of spacial awareness (the pilot in command had decided to descend to avoid clouds barring the route), poor intracrew communications and, crucially, the distracted pilots taking no action in the 45 seconds from the radio altitude alert sounding at around 250 feet and the aircraft impacting with the sea.

On January 30, 2018, a funeral service was held at Hamamatsu AB for the four who had lost their lives: pilots Maj. Akihiro Hanafusa (42) and Maj. Hideaki Sugimoto (46), flight engineer Tech Sgt. Takanobu Yoshida (40), and rescuer Staff Sgt Masafumi Inoue (32).

In June 2017, the Hamamatsu ARS had successfully participated in two typical operations. On June 13, acting in response to a request from the Japan Coast Guard’s 5th Region, a U-125A and UH-60J were instrumental in airlifting an emergency case from a ship lying nearly 300 nautical miles (600 km) off Cape Shionomisaki, Wakayama Prefecture. On June 25, a U-125A was launched to gather damage assessment information following an earthquake that had struck the city of Iida, Nagano Prefecture, earlier that morning.

In the early hours of December 6, 2018, Hamamatsu U-125A and UH-60J crews worked in conjunction with their ARS counterparts at Ashiya and Nyutabaru as well as with the Japan Coast Guard and U.S. and Australian units in a protracted and extensive search operation. Five crew members of a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J were declared missing after a nighttime midair collision with an F/A-18 Hornet 55 nautical miles (100 km) south of Cape Muroto, Kochi Prefecture; only one of the latter’s two-man crew survived. The search was finally called off early on December 11.

 

Air Rescue Wing Markings

JASDF markings(Komaki, February 2014)

ARW aircraft carry a blue shield, devised in 1988, featuring the silhouette of an eagle bearing a hand design, representing rescue, on its breast. A scroll bears the words `Air Rescue Wing`, and a panel beneath carries the name, in English, of the aircraft’s home base or, in the case of Komaki-based aircraft, TRAINING SQ, as shown above. 

The Ikaros publication, JSDF Squadron, which appeared in the summer of 1996, contains a photo of the first U-125A with the words Air Rescue in cursive script on the side of its port engine.

UH-60J from ARW hp(Photo: JASDF Air Rescue Wing)

Air Transport
Training Sqn (ATTS)

Formed circa 1970 (Air Transport Wing, Miho, C-46) 
Disbanded March 1978 (upon formation of
Tactical Air Group organization)

Also referred to as the Flying Training Squadron (a direct translation of its name in Japanese, Hikōkyōikutai), this unit flew C-46s and then YS-11s from Miho under the direct command of the Air Transport Wing. Following the introduction of the TAG system, the training role remained at Miho but was passed to the 403rd Sqn.

ATTS Tail Marking
From 1975–78, ATTS YS-11s featured a disc-shaped tail marking of a red cherry blossom, which appeared in blue on 401st Squadron YS-11s from 1972–78.

Air Transport Wing

Formed Oct. 31, 1958 (Kisarazu, C-46) 
Renamed 1st Air Transport Group (March 31, 1978)

JASDF C-46D TsuikiAn Air Transport Wing C-46D at Tsuiki in December 1962. (Photo: Takao Kadokami)

The Tachikawa Air Transport Group (q.v.) had been in operation only a matter of months when relocated to Miho as the Provisional Miho Air Transport Group (q.v.) in June 1955. Miho having formed the transport operations hub, the Air Transport Wing became the Air Transport Group, which controlled the 401st Squadron at Miho and the 402nd at Kisarazu, in 1978.

ECM Training Sqn

Formed As ECM Training Flight: July 1963 (EC-46D)
As Electronic Warfare Support Sqn: Mar. 22, 1964
(Air Defense Command HQ Sqn, Kisarazu, EC-46D)
As ECM Training Sqn: July 1, 1993 
Current Base  Iruma (Air Tactics Development Wing, EC-1 and YS-11EA)

In June 1959, a radar evaluation unit was formed at Iruma in June 1959 with the primary task of checking the functions of airfield radars and radar sites. In July 1963, an office was set up within that unit to complete preparations for the independent air operations of what was called the Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) Training Flight, which although based at Kisarazu was likewise to report direct to the Iruma-based Air Defense Command HQ Squadron. Its initial equipment was two C-46D transports converted to EC-46D standard.

Elevated in status in March 1964, the newly designated Electronic Warfare Support Squadron and the radar evaluation unit relocated to Iruma on May 31, 1968. A third EC-46D was received on November 30, 1970, and a T-33A (unofficially designated an ET-33A) equipped with a pod-mounted AN/ALQ-172 electronic countermeasures system on December 16, 1971. The tasks now were research into ECM and the improvement of JASDF ECM capabilities.

Offering enhanced jamming capabilities over the EC-46D, the first specially modified YS-11C (12-1163) made its maiden flight as a YS-11E from Japan Aircraft Manufacturing (NIPPI)’s Atsugi facility on February 9, 1976. The aircraft was received into service on February 3, 1977, and followed by another (12-1162) in February 1979. Their replacement complete, the last of the ageing EC-46Ds was withdrawn from use on March 11, 1978.

Naturally drawing its personnel initially from transport units, pilots with a wealth of fighter experience began to join the squadron’s ranks from the 1980s.

The squadron’s capabilities were further enhanced by the arrival of a C-1 modified to EC-1 standard in 1986 and a YS-11E upgrade programme initiated in 1991. This involved replacing the original Rolls-Royce Dart engines and four-blade Dowty propellers with more powerful Allison-IHI T64s driving three-blade Hamilton Standard propellers and the installation of J/ALQ-7 equipment. Another obvious external difference was the replacement of the many YS-11Es many radome lumps and bumps with blade aerials. The first of the pair of what were initially known as YS-11EKai (later YS-11EA, 12-1163) made its first post-modification flight on September 12, 1991, and, following extensive testing at the Air Development and Test Wing, was finally delivered in July 1993. On the first of that month, what had been the Electronic Warfare Support Squadron had, in a throwback to its early days as the ECM Training Flight, changed its name to the ECM Training Squadron.

Having also operated the first YS-11EL modified for the electronic intelligence (ELINT)-gathering role since 1983, this was passed with the then only recently (April 1991) modified second aircraft to the Electronic Intelligence Squadron (see below) as its initial equipment upon its formation in November 1991.

On August 1, 2014, the unit was moved from under the command of the Electronic Tactics Group to the Air Tactics Development Wing.

ECM Training Sqn Markings
Adopted in 1973, the then Electronic Warfare Support Squadron’s official emblem, which consists of a helmeted crow with three lightning flashes emanating from its claws, was designed by its then commanding officer, a Lt. Col. Nozaki. The YS-11EAs, however, carry the same tricolour fin marking as the aircraft flown by the Central Air Defense Command HQ Support Squadron (the former Air Defense Command HQ, see below). In contrast, the distinctive EC-1 carries no external unit markings.

Electronic Intelligence Sqn

Formed Nov. 1991 (Iruma, Air Defence Command HQ, YS-11EL) 
Current Base Iruma (Electronic Tactics Group, YS-11EB) 

Its name literally and euphemistically meaning Electronic Flight Measurement Unit, this squadron is tasked with signal interception (SI), in other words the monitoring of the electro-magnetic wave environment and signals gathering in and around Japan. This has naturally included the conducting of flights to the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea and, on occasion, the monitoring of missiles launched by North Korea.

Initiated in the early 1980s, initial JASDF research had revolved around the Toshiba-developed J/ALR-1 signals intelligence gathering system with a view to its installation in a C-130H. When the costs of this project proved prohibitive, this system was installed on the EC-1 operated by the Electronic Warfare Support Squadron (now ECM Training Sqn, see above).

The formation of this squadron in November 1991 consolidated the JASDF operations of its fleet of four YS-11EBs in a separate unit. Its initial equipment was the two standard YS-11Cs that had been modified to YS-11EL (for ELINT) standard and previously operated by the ECM Training Squadron. The first aircraft (12-1161) was fitted with the J/ALR-1 intelligence gathering system in September 1982. Having completed a test programme at the then Air Proving Wing (now Air Development and Test Wing), the aircraft was delivered to the ECM Training Squadron in 1983. The next aircraft (92-1157) was modified to YS-11EL standard in April 1991, but the final two (82-1155 and 02-1159), completed in 1995 and 1996, were to the new YS-11EB standard that incorporated the powerplant and other changes of the ECM Training Squadron’s YS-11EAs along with the installation of the J/ALR-2 system. The first two YS-11ELs were retrospectively brought up to YS-11EB standard in 1997 (’161) and 1998 (’157), respectively.

Not surprisingly, the unit’s aircraft are finished in an overall grey colour scheme devoid of squadron markings.

Flight Check Group

Formed Oct. 1, 1958 (Air Traffic Control Group HQ, Miho, C-46) 
Current Base Iruma (Air Support Command, U-125, YS-11FC) 

Having commenced operations with a C-46 from Miho in October 1958 and moved to Kisarazu on June 1, 1959, this navaids calibration unit has operated entirely out of Iruma since May 31, 1968; Iruma had been home to its 2nd Detachment since December 26, 1963. 

To commence the replacement if the C-46, the first YS-11FC was delivered on February 25, 1971, and followed by the first MU-2J in 1975; the last C-46 finally bowed out on March 11, 1978.

In 1984, in addition to one YS-11FC and four MU-2Js, the unit was operating a number of T-33As.

[ADDITIONAL TEXT PENDING]

Flight Check Group Markings
Although originally designed as a black-and-white checkerboard tail marking in 1960, higher visibility red and white was eventually adopted. In the shape of a shield, the squadron badge depicts pieces on a chess board with a lightning flash.

Flying Training School

Formed July 6, 1954 (Hamamatsu, T-34A) 
Reorganized As 1st Flying Training School, Nov. 1, 1955
(Hamamatsu, with Branch School at Hofu)

 

Helicopter Airlift
Squadrons

Formed  As Iruma Provisional
Helicopter Airlift Sqn: Oct. 1, 1987
As Iruma Helicopter Airlift Sqn: Oct. 1, 1988
(under Air Rescue Wing, CH-47J)
Current Bases Iruma, Kasuga, Misawa, Naha
(under Air Rescue Wing, HQ Iruma, CH-47J) 

To meet a pressing requirement for helicopters capable of, for example, airlifting materiel and personnel from air bases to remote radar sites on resupply missions, the procurement of Chinook helicopters was commenced in 1984, and the first example received for testing by the then Air Proving Wing (now Air Development and Test Wing) in December 1986.

The first Helicopter Airlift Squadron was declared fully operational on October 1, 1988, exactly a year after its formation as the Iruma Provisional Helicopter Airlift Sqn; this squadron also fulfills the training role. The second squadron formed at Misawa on March 31, 1989, with those at Naha and Kasuga following in March and May 1993, respectively. (See table below.)

Two weeks prior to the formation of the second squadron at Misawa in March 1989, a JASDF reorganization resulted in the Air Rescue Wing being moved under the command of Air Support Command on March 16, 1989.

Formation Dates of Helicopter Airlift Squadrons
Base Date Formed Base Date Formed
Iruma Provisional: Oct. 1, 1987
Oct. 1, 1988
Naha Mar. 31, 1992
Misawa Mar. 31, 1989 Kasuga May 22, 1992

The Helicopter Airlift Squadron organization has provided invaluable support during natural disasters. Examples of its operations in the first 10 years of its existence are shown below.

Helicopter Airlift Squadron Operations
Year Mission/Event Squadron(s)
1994 Reconnaissance of earthquake-affected areas Misawa
1995 Disaster relief in aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake (All)
1996 Emergency airlift Misawa
  Airlift of wreckage from crashed passenger aircraft Kasuga
1997 (Twice) Airlift of personnel to assist cleanup operations following oil tanker capsize (All)
1998 Forest firefighting Iruma

Following another reorganization, after 25 years the Air Rescue Wing moved from being under Air Support Command to Air Defence Command control on March 26, 2013.

Helicopter Airlift Sqn Markings
As they now come under the control of the Air Rescue Wing HQ at Iruma, the aircraft currently carry the same marking as the JASDF’s Air Rescue Wing on their rear rotor masts.

Iwo To Drone
Operation Flight

Formed  As Provisional Drone Operation Unit
(under Iwo To Base Sqn): Mar. 31, 1992
As Iwo To Drone Operation Flight
(under Iwo To Base Detachment): Mar. 31, 1994
(UF-104J/JA)
Disbanded Iwo To, Mar. 31, 1997 

Having established a presence alongside the JMSDF facilities on the island in January 1984, the JASDF formed the Provisional Drone Operation Unit under the Iwo To Base Squadron in March 1992. The squadron was re-designated as a detachment the following month, and the provisional unit officially renamed the Iwo To Drone Operation Flight in March 1994.

The aircraft most closely associated with the JASDF operation on Iwo To were the 12 F-104J Starfighters converted to UF-104JA (and two interim-standard UF-104J) target drones. The last Starfighters in JASDF service, the first was shot down in March 1995, the last two years later, after which the flight was disbanded. If there were ever plans to resurrect the unit to operate other candidates for conversion, such as the Mitsubishi F-1, they never reached fruition.

Two excellent videos on YouTube show the two UF-104Js during testing. The first covers a manned test flight [link], the second a remote flight from a ground station with a manned chase aircraft [link]. These clearly show the unit’s scorpion tail marking.

Kisarazu Squadron/
Iruma Squadron

Formed As Kisarazu Training Sqn:
Oct. 17, 1958 (Air Transport Wing, C-46)
As Kisarazu Detachment:
Dec. 1, 1958 (Air Transport Wing, C-46)
As Kisarazu Sqn: June 1, 1959
(Air Transport Wing, C-46)
Reorganized As Iruma Sqn: June 1, 1968 (Air Transport Wing, C-46) then

402nd Sqn (q.v.): Oct. 1, 1968 (2nd TAG, C-46)
March 1978 (2nd TAG)
March 1989 (2nd TAG reports direct to Air Support Command)

 

Provisional Matsushima
Detachment

Formed As NSF Provisional Matsushima Detachment:
June 1, 1954 
As JASDF Provisional Matsushima Detachment:
July 1, 1954
Reorganized As 2nd Flying School, Nov. 1, 1955

 

Miho Detachment

Formed  As Provisional Miho Detachment:
June 6, 1955 (Miho, C-46)
Renamed Air Transport Wing (Oct. 1, 1958) 

Originally formed as the Tachikawa Air Transport Group (q.v.) in 1955, the short-lived Miho Detachment formed following the move from Tachikawa to Miho in Tottori Prefecture as a provisional unit on June 6 that year. It was from this that the two-squadron Air Transport Wing was formed in 1958.

REGIONAL AIR DEFENSE FORCE HQ
SUPPORT FLIGHT GROUPS

What were originally formed as regional air command support flights were all re-designated as regional air defense HQ support flight groups in August 2014.

Northern

Formed As Northern Air Detachment:
July 1960 (Misawa, T-33A)
As Northern Air Command Support Flight: TBC
As Northern Air Defense Force HQ
Support Flight Group: Aug. 1, 2014 
Current Base Misawa (T-4) 

Initially formed under Air Defense HQ command in July 1960, what was originally the Northern Air Detachment reported to the commanding officer of the Northern Air Command from the following year. Its sole aircraft, a T-33A, was maintained by the 81st Air Group then based at Misawa.

Northern Air Defense Force HQ Support Flight Group Tail Marking
Initially, aircraft assigned to the then Northern Air Detachment carried two red stripes like those of the 81st Air Group. From 1980 to around the mid-1990s, the marking combined Aomori Prefecture and the apples for which it is famous in Japan.

Formerly worn by the 8th Sqn in the F-86F and F-1 eras, the unit’s current blue tail marking is of a stylized ‘3’ (denoting the 3rd Air Wing) beneath the outline of the Shimokita Peninsula, in Aomori Prefecture. The marking was first worn on the unit’s T-33As from 1978, during its time as the Northern Air Command Support Flight.

Central

Formed As Provisional Air Training Flight:
August 1956 (Johnson [Iruma] AB, T-33A)
As Air Defense Command HQ Squadron: Sept. 1, 1958
 (Johnson [Iruma] AB, T-33A) 
As Central Air Defense Force HQ
Support Flight Group: Aug. 1, 2014
Current Base Iruma (T-4, U-4) 

The formation of the then Air Defense Command HQ Squadron, with two T-33As on September 1, 1958, came a month after the August 1958 establishment of the JASDF Central Air Defense Force HQ and Iruma AB at Johnson AB*.

Forming the HQ Squadron was essentially an exercise in renaming its forerunner, the Provisional Air Training Flight (Rinji Kōkū Kunrentai) that had formed in August 1956, flown the two T-33As and boasted all of 15 personnel. Aside from the flying unit, a total of seven elements, including electronic warfare and radar evaluation units as well as maintenance and airfield operation squadrons, were to gradually come under the HQ Squadron umbrella over the next few years.

In terms of aircraft, the HQ Squadron went on to receive T-6Gs in 1960, two of which were flying alongside five F-86Fs** and six T-33As by 1961. The T-6Gs were replaced by five T-34As on March 25, 1964. Then as now, the unit’s aircraft were used for liaison flights and check rides as well as training for pilots assigned to ground duties.

In March 1964, an ECM Training Flight was formed at Kisarazu but came under HQ Squadron command. (The development of this unit was covered earlier, under the Electronic Warfare Support Sqn.). That year, the unit’s inventory comprised six F-86Fs and 12 T-33As.

On April 1, 1977, the unit received four RF-86Fs with sufficient flying hours remaining on their airframes following the end of the type’s operations with the 501st Sqn. These remained in service until October 1979.

In 1980, it was the turn of the T-34As to be replaced, in this case by five B-65 Queen Airs transferred from the JMSDF on March 4. Two were destined to be passed on to the Southwestern HQ Flight later that same year.

At its peak, the unit was flying 12 F-86Fs. On March 15, 1982, it fell to the pilot of aircraft ’497 to bring the curtain down on the era of JASDF F-86F operations. Unfortunately, bad weather forced the cancellation of the pre-ceremony farewell flight, and so all present had to be content with seeing the aircraft being taxied along the runway one last time.

In 1984, the unit was equipped with around 20 T-33As and the three B-65s and overseeing the operations of the three ECM Sqn YS-11Es.

The unit has been operating the T-4 and U-4 since December 1994 and February 1998 respectively; the last B-65 was retired on February 10, 1998.

It was on August 1, 2014, that the support squadron under the command of Air Defense Command HQ was transferred to the Central Air Defense Force as its HQ Support Flight Group.

* The joint use of Johnson itself, which was to be redesignated Johnson Air Station on December 30, 1960, was agreed in June 1961, but the U.S. military ceased using the base for air operations a year later. After a protracted general winding down of the U.S. Air Force presence, the base was finally fully returned to the Japanese government in September 1978.
** Although one Japanese source states that five F-86Fs were on strength at the time of squadron’s formation, these were received in 1960.

Central Air Defense Force HQ Support Flight Group Tail Marking
The unit’s red, yellow and blue chevron tail marking, denoting the then three principal (northern, central and western) air commands, was first adopted in 1962, in the early days of its time as the Air Defense Command HQ Squadron.

Western

Formed As Western HQ Support Flight: 1972
As Western Air Defense Force HQ
Support Flight Group: Aug. 1, 2014
Current Base Kasuga (T-4)

T-4 JASDF Kasuga(Photo: JASDF Kasuga)

[TEXT IN PREPARATION]

Marking JASDF Kasuga T-4On aircraft visiting Tsuiki, November 2017
(Photo: Hunini via Wikimedia Commons)

Western Air Defense Force HQ Support Flight Group Tail Marking
The tail marking depicts a samurai helmet. In earlier times, Western HQ Support Flight T-33As had worn a tail marking of the same design as that of the 8th Air Wing at Tsuiki.

Southwestern

Formed

As Southwestern HQ Support Flight:

May 1972 (Naha)

As Southwestern Air Defense Force HQ
Support Flight Group: Aug. 1, 2014 (Naha, T-4) 

Current Base  Naha (T-4)

JASDF T-4 NahaDecember 2008. Specially marked for the traditional end-of-year airshow, a T-4 assigned to the
Southwestern Support Flight of the then Southwestern Composite Air Division (since July 2017,
the Southwestern Air Defense Force) sits on the apron at Naha.

Like its counterpart in the western region, when initially formed in May 1972, after Okinawa had reverted to Japanese administration, the Southwestern HQ Support Flight operated a Southwestern Composite Air Division aircraft on loan from its active unit, the 83rd Air Group, as required.

Two former JMSDF B-65 Queen Airs, which had briefly seen service with the then Air Defense Command HQ Squadron, were passed on to the Southwestern HQ Support Flight late in 1980. The last surviving example was withdrawn from use with the Southwestern Support Flight on March 1, 1999.

Southwestern Air Defense Force HQ Support Flight Group Tail Marking
The unit’s T-4s sport a yellow tail marking of a shisa, a lion-like Ryukyuan god said to protect Okinawa from evil. This was first adopted on the then Southwestern Support Flight’s aircraft in December 1984. 

From 1981, both the flight’s B-65s and T-33As had carried the Southern Cross marking of the resident Starfighter squadron, the 207th.

Tachikawa Air Transport
Group

Formed  As Provisional Tachikawa Detachment:
Feb. 1, 1955 (Tachikawa, C-46)
As Tachikawa Air Transport Group:
Mar. 1, 1955 (C-46)
Renamed Provisional Miho Air Group (June 6, 1955) 

The origins of today’s 1st Tactical Airlift Group, the Tachikawa Air Transport Group itself started off as a provisional detachment in February 1955 but moved to Miho on June 6 that very same year. Basic transport pilot course T-1, which had commenced in March 1955 and comprised four experienced pilots, was outsourced and conducted at Tachikawa by U.S. Air Force instructors.

Tactical Fighter Training
Group (Aggressor Sqn)

Formed  Dec. 17, 1981 (Tsuiki, T-2 and T-33A)
Current Base Komatsu (Air Tactics Development Wing, F-15J/DJ and T-4) 

Having formed at Tsuiki AB with five T-2s and two T-33As in December 1981, on March 16, 1983, this unit moved to Nyutabaru AB, which became known as “Japan’s Nellis” after the home of the unit’s U.S. Air Force’s aggressor squadron counterpart.

Having commenced F-15DJ operations in 1990, the first F-15J arrived in autumn 2000. A plan to phase in F-2Bs never materialized.

A ceremony held at Nyutabaru on May 14, 2016, marked the start of the relocation to Komatsu as part of the reorganization that shifted principal fighter units to Kyushu and Okinawa. The last of the unit’s eight aircraft completed the move by arriving at Komatsu on June 10, where another ceremony was held that afternoon attended by the unit’s 70 personnel and around 300 Komatsu AB personnel. Komatsu

Tactical Fighter Training Group (Aggressor Squadron) Tail Marking
A cobra’s head unit tail marking has been used from the outset.

Glossary of Principal Terms Used in JASDF Squadron Histories 

Airborne Early Warning
 Surveillance Group (Misawa)
Hikō Keikai Kanshigun 飛行警戒監視群
Airborne Early Warning &
Control Group (Hamamatsu)
Keikaikōkūtai 警戒航空隊
Air Development &
Test Command (Mar. 1989–)
Kōkū Kaihatsu
Jikken Shūdan
航空開発実験集団
Air Development &
Test Wing (Mar. 1989–)
Hikō Kaihatsu
Jikkendan
飛行開発実験団
Airlift Squadron (Used only in English references to
transport squadrons)
Air Proving Group 
(Dec. 1955 to Apr. 1974)
Jikken Kōkūtai 実験航空隊
Air Proving Wing 
(Apr. 1974 to Mar. 1989)
Kōkū Jikkendan 航空実験団
Air Rescue Detachment Kyūnan Bunkentai
(Feb. 1959 to Nov. 1964)
救難分遣隊
Kyūnantai
(Dec. 1964–)
救難隊
Air Rescue Group
(1961 to 1971)
Kōkū Kyūnangun 航空救難群
Air Rescue Squadron
(1958 to 1961)
Kyūnan Kōkūtai 救難航空隊
Air Rescue Training Squadron Kyūnan Kyōikutai 救難教育隊
Air Rescue Wing
(Mar. 1971–)
Kōkū Kyūnandan 航空救難団
Air Support Command Kōkū Shien Shūdan 航空支援集団
Air Tactics Development
Wing (Yokota)
Kōkūsengi Kyōdōdan 航空戦術教導団
 Air Training Command  Kōkū Kyōiku Shūdan 航空教育集団 
Air Transport Group (1955–58) Yusōkōkūtai 輸送航空隊
Air Transport Wing (1958–78) Yusōkōkūdan 輸送航空団
 Air Wing  Kōkūdan  航空団
Branch School (1950s) Bunkō 分校
 Central Air Command
HQ Support Squadron
Chūbu Kōkūhōmentai
Shireibu Shien Hikōtai 
 中部航空方面隊
司令部支援飛行隊
Detachment Hakentai 派遣隊
ECM Training Flight (1963–64) Denshi Kunrentai 電子訓練隊
ECM Training Squadron (1993–)
 Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) Squadron  Denshi Hikōsokuteitai 電子飛行測定隊 
Electronic Tactics Group  Denshi Sakusengun  電子作戦群 
 Electronic Warfare Support Squadron
(1964–1993)
 Denshisenshientai   電子戦支援隊
Fighter Training Group Hikō Kyōiku Kōkūtai 飛行教育航空隊
 Fighter Training Squadron    (Used only in English references
to 23rd Sqn)
Flight Check Group   Hikōtenkentai 飛行点検隊 
Flying Training School (1956–59)        Sōjūgakkōbunkō 操縦学校分校
 Flying Training Squadron  Hikōkyōikutai 飛行教育隊 
 Flying Training Wing       Hikōkyōikudan  飛行教育団 
 Helicopter Airlift Squadron  Herikoputa-kūyutai  ヘリコプター
空輸隊
 Northern Air Command 
Support Flight
 Hokubu Kōkūhōmentai 
Shienhikōhan
 北部航空方面隊
支援飛行班
 Southwestern Support
Flight Group
 Nansei Shienhikōhan  南西支援飛行班
Special Airlift Group Tokubetsu Kōkūyusōtai 特別航空輸送隊
Tactical Airlift Group* Yusōkōkūtai 輸送航空隊
Tactical Fighter
Training Group**
Hikokyōdōgun 飛行教導群
Technical School Gijutsu Gakkō 術科学校
Western Air Defense Force HQ
Support Flight Squadron
Seibu Kōkūhōmentai
Shireibu Shienhikōtai
西部航空方面隊
司令部支援飛行隊
*   3rd TAG calls itself the 3rd Tactical Airlift Wing
** Aggressor Squadron

(All photographs on this website are copyright J-HangarSpace
unless otherwise stated.) 


Principal Reference Sources (in Japanese unless otherwise stated)

 

Principal Reference Sources (in Japanese unless otherwise stated)

JSDF Squadron, series published in Kōkū Fan magazine, Bunrindo (various issues 1997–2001)

Japan Self-Defense Force Squadron, Ikaros, Summer 1996

JASDF F-15 All-Unit Guide, JWings, October 2014 issue

Kōkū Jieitai F-86/F-104, Military Aircraft of JASDF Vol. 6, Ikaros, 2005

Kōkū Jieitai T-4/C-1/E-767, Military Aircraft of JASDF Vol. 5, Ikaros, 2005

Mitsubishi T-2/F-1 Shashinshū (Photo Collection), Hobby Japan, 2017

North American F-86 Sabre, Famous Airplanes of the World Nos. 20 and 93, Bunrindo, 1995/2002

T-1/T-3/T-4/T-7 Shashinshū (Photo Collection), Hobby Japan, 2017

Watanabe, Akira, Japanese Air Arms, 19521984, (self-published in English), 1984

Japanese Wikipedia

JASDF base/unit websites

 

logors25

Notices

Announcements

JASDF
2019 Airshow Dates
Komaki 2019 poster
Mar. 2  Komaki
Apr. 14  Kumagaya
May 19  Shizuhama
June 2  Hofu-Kita
June 2  Miho
Aug. 4  Chitose
Aug. 25  Matsushima
Sept. 8  Misawa
Oct. 13  Ashiya
Oct. 20  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 10  Gifu 
Nov.*  Kasuga
Dec.*  Hyakuri
Dec.*  Naha
Dec. 8  Tsuiki
Dec. 15  Nyutabaru

Airshows in 2018
Feb. 18  Ashiya
Mar. 3  Komaki
Apr. 8  Kumagaya
May 20  Shizuhama
miho 2018 poster
May 27  Miho
June 3  Hofu-Kita
July 22  Chitose
Aug. 26  Matsushima
Sept. 9  Misawa
Sept. 17  Komatsu
Oct. 14  Ashiya
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 18  Gifu
Nov. 25  Hamamatsu
Nov. 25  Tsuiki
Dec. 2  Hyakuri
Dec. 2  Nyutabaru
Dec. 8-9  Naha

2017 Event Posters
Hofu-Kita / Miho
JASDF Hofu-Kita


Miho poster 2017

JGSDF
2019 Airshow Dates
Jan. 13  Kisarazu
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 13  Kasuminome
Apr. 13  Somagahara
May 12  Takayubaru
June 1  Kasumigaura
June 16  Kita-Utsunomiya
June 23  Okadama
Sept.*  Kisarazu
Oct. 6  Metabaru
Nov. 3  Akeno
Nov. 9  Tachikawa
Nov. 17  Naha
Nov. 24  Yao

Airshows in 2018
Jan. 12  Narashino
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 15  Kasuminome
May 26  Kasumigaura
May 27 Kita-
                Utsunomiya
June 17  Asahikawa
Aug. 26  Fuji live fire
Sept. 9  Kisarazu
                (cancelled)
Sept. 29  Tachikawa
Oct. 6  Obihiro
Oct. 14  Yao
Nov. 4  Akeno
Nov. 25  Naha 

2017 Event Posters
Kisarazu / Metabaru
Kisarazu 170225

Metabaru 2017

JMSDF
2019 Airshow Dates
Apr. 27  Atsugi
Apr. 28  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(joint Friendship Day)
May 18  Maizuru
May 19  Ohmura
July*  Komatsushima
July 27  Tateyama
Sept.*  Hachinohe
Oct.*  Ozuki
Oct.*  Tokushima

Airshows in 2018
Apr. 21  NAF Atsugi
Apr. 30  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(joint Friendship Day)
May 27  Omura
July 15  Komatsushima
July 21  Maizuru
July 28  Tateyama
 (cancelled [typhoon])
Sept. 16  Hachinohe
Sept. 29  Tokushima
Oct. 20  Shimofusa
Oct. 21  Ozuki

2017 Event Posters
Ozuki  (July children’s
event / Oct. Swell Festival)
Ozuki event July 2017

Ozuki Swell 2017

(*) Date to be confirmed

(Please note that air show dates are subject to change/cancellation.)

Links

Arawasi banner

Arawasi

The Aviation Historian

Japan Association of Aviation Photo-
graphers
 (JAAP, Japanese only)

Asian Air Arms

Visitors
(from Feb. 2016, earlier shown below)

Visitors to Feb. 2016

Past visitors