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JGSDF Primary Air Unit Order of Battle

(As at April 1, 2021)

A 106th Sqn CH-47J departs Zentsuji Army Camp in Kagawa Prefecture, airlifting 14th Brigade
troops on a rapid deployment exercise to Yonaguni, the westernmost inhabited island in Japan.

(Photo [Oct. 2020]: JGSDF Middle Army via Twitter @JGSDF_MA_pr)

JGSDF AH-64DA JGSDF ground crew member moves to finish positioning the chocks around the wheels of a Fuji-
Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow at
Camp Kita-Utsunomiya in May 2013. Primarily for reasons
of
cost and delivery time span, Japan halted the type’s licence production at the 13th airframe.

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

GROUND STAFF OFFICE (Ichigaya, Tokyo)

Northern Army (HQ: Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture)

Northern Army
Aviation Group
(Okadama, Hokkaido)

Northern Army HQ Flight LR-2

Northern Army
Helicopter Sqn
(Okadama, Hokkaido)

HQ Flt UH-1J
1st Flt UH-1J
2nd Flt

1st Anti-Tank Helicopter Sqn
(Obihiro, Hokkaido)

HQ Flt UH-1J
1st Flt AH-1S
2nd Flt
 
Units attached to JGSDF Brigades/Divisions
2nd Div. (Asahikawa) 2nd AvSqn Asahikawa, Hokkaido UH-1J
5th Brigade (Obihiro) 5th AvSqn Obihiro, Hokkaido
7th Div. (Higashi-Chitose) 7th AvSqn Okadama, Hokkaido
11th Brigade (Makonai) 11th AvSqn

jgsdf ah-1s winterA pair of 1st Anti-Tank Helicopter Squadron AH-1S helicopters take part in a winter training exercise.
(Photo: JGSDF)

 uh-1j snowA Fuji-Bell UH-1J assigned to a Northern Army division’s aviation squadron causes a mini snowstorm
close to a tank column.
(Photo: JGSDF)

In January 2020, on the traditional occasion of the first formation training flight of the
New Year, the Northern Army launched five UH-1Js and six AH-1Ss as
well as its LR-1 for a mission over the city of Sapporo.

(Photo: JGSDF Northern Army via Twitter @NorthernArmy_pr)

Northeastern Army (HQ: Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture)

Northeastern Army
Aviation Group
(Kasuminome, Miyagi)

Northeastern Army
Helicopter Sqn
(Kasuminome, Miyagi)

HQ Flt UH-1J
1st Flt UH-1J
2nd Flt

2nd Anti-Tank Helicopter Sqn
(Hachinohe, Aomori)

HQ Flt OH-1
1st Flt AH-1S
 
Units attached to JGSDF Divisions
6th Div. (Jinmachi) 6th AvSqn Jinmachi, Yamagata UH-1J
9th Div. (Aomori) 9th AvSqn Hachinohe, Aomori UH-1J

OH-1 KasumigauraAlthough still bearing the Hachinohe-based 2nd Anti-Tank Helicopter Sqn’s “IIATH” code aft of its
cockpit, this OH-1 was being operated at the Kasumigaura Aviation School, Ibaraki Prefecture,
in May 2014. Note the airliner, presumably departing from Ibaraki Airport, being pointed out 
by the tail aerial. All OH-1s were grounded following an accident in December 2015 and
only returned to service in March 2019.
(See Bulletin Board, March 1, 2019)

An important aspect of community liaison for most SDF bases involves the recruitment of local  
residents to serve as monitors of all aspects of base operations for one year. Ignoring the cold 
weather in northern Japan but taking advantage of the low incidence of COVID-19 cases in
the prefecture, air experience flights were arranged for Iwate Army Camp monitors in late
November 2020.
(Photo: JGSDF Iwate Army Camp via Twitter @Gsdf_Camp_Iwate)

Eastern Army (HQ: Asaka, Saitama Prefecture)
Eastern Army
Aviation Group
(Tachikawa, Tokyo)

Eastern Army
Helicopter Sqn
(Tachikawa, Tokyo)

HQ Flt OH-1
1st Flt

UH-1J*

2nd Flt

4th Anti-Tank
Helicopter Sqn
(Kisarazu, Chiba)

HQ Flt OH-1
1st Flt AH-1S
2nd Flt**
* According to April 2021 issue of Kōkū Fan, also still operating UH-1H
** In a process started by the 2nd and 5th in the 2010s, the 4th ATH Unit is scheduled to be
     reduced to a single AH-1S flight by March 31, 2022. 
Units attached to JGSDF Brigades/Divisions
1st Div. (Nerima) 1st AvSqn Tachikawa, Tokyo UH-1J
12th Brigade
(Soumagahara)
12th
Helicopter Unit
Soumagahara, Gunma
(1st Flt at Kita-Utsunomiya,
Tochigi)
HQ Flt UH-1J
1st Flt UH-60JA
2nd Flt CH-47J/JA

EH uh-1jAircraft assigned to the Eastern Army Helicopter Squadron’s 1st Flight have a white “V” nose marking and a single white fuselage stripe.

tachikawa ah-1
(Above) A Fuji-built AH-1S Cobra from the 4th Anti-Tank Helicopter Sqn at Kisarazu Army Camp. (Below) An aircraft from the same unit has its engine changed by Eastern Army Aviation flight maintenance personnel at Tachikawa.

ah-1s engine change

oh-1 tachikawaA ground crew member waves as a Kawasaki OH-1 assigned to the Eastern Army Helicopter Squadron’s
HQ Flight inches airborne at Tachikawa Army Camp.

uh-1j tachikawaThe marking on the nose and main fuselage door of this UH-1J denotes an aircraft from the
Tachikawa-based 1st Division’s 1st Aviation Squadron.
 
The following three photos show a Mitsubishi-built UH-60JA stripped down in the maintenance hangar
at Kita-Utsunomiya; the tail marking identifies the aircraft as belonging to the
1st Flight of the 12th Helicopter Unit (HU).

stripped-down uh-60j
stripped-down uh-60ja(2)
stripped-down uh-60ja (3)
uh-60ja kisarazuThe JGSDF received its 40th and newest UH-60JA late in 2016.

(Photo [of 12th HU CH-47J, posted Nov. 2020]: steelbird via Twitter @steelbird01)

Central Army (HQ: Itami, Hyogo Prefecture)

Central Army
Aviation Group
(Yao, Osaka)

Central Army Helicopter Sqn
(Yao, Osaka)

HQ Flt OH-1
1st Flt UH-1J
2nd Flt
3rd Flt* CH-47JA

5th Anti-Tank Helicopter Sqn
(Akeno, Mie)

HQ Flt OH-1
1st Flt AH-1S
 
Units attached to JGSDF Brigades/Divisions
3rd Div. (Senzo) 3rd AvSqn Yao, Osaka UH-1J

10th Div. (Moriyama) 10th AvSqn Akeno, Mie
13th Brigade (Kaitaichi) 13th AvSqn Hofu, Yamaguchi
14th Brigade (Zentsuji) 14th AvSqn Kita-Tokushima, Tokushima

(*) The 3rd Flight formed with two CH-47Js at Camp Yonago/JASDF Miho, Tottori Prefecture, on
      March 27, 2018. 

A 14th AvSqn UH-1J operating in the city of Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, in September 2020,
when the 14th Brigade was conducting air mobility deployment training. With the support of sister 
units and JASDF as well as JMSDF elements, the training scenario called for troops to be rapidly
deployed the 600 km from their base in Zentsuji, Kagawa Prefecture, to the island city.

(Photo: JGSDF 14th Brigade via Twitter @JGSDF_MA_14B_pr)

Western Army (HQ: Kengun, Kumamoto Prefecture)

Western Army
Aviation Group
(Takayubaru, Kumamoto)

Western Army HQ Flight LR-2

Western Army
Helicopter Sqn
(Metabaru, Saga)

HQ Flt UH-1J
1st Flt UH-60JA
2nd Flt UH-1J
3rd Flt* CH-47J/JA

1st Combat Helicopter Sqn**
(Metabaru, Saga)

HQ Flt OH-1
2nd Flt AH-64D
 
Units attached to JGSDF Brigades/Divisions
4th Div. (Kasuga) 4th AvSqn Metabaru, Saga UH-1J
8th Div. (Kita-Kumamoto) 8th AvSqn Takayubaru, Kumamoto UH-60JA
15th Brigade (Naha) 15th Helicopter Unit Naha, Okinawa

HQ Flt: LR-2
1st Flt: UH-60JA
2nd Flt: CH-47JA

* Based at Takayubaru, Kumamoto
** Officially renamed from 1st ATH on Mar. 18, 2021, the 1st Flight having disbanded following the
     last AH-1S flight the previous day. 

jgsdf uh-1jWhile implementing extensive mission and command structure changes under a previous Medium-Term
Defense Plan, the JGSDF selected the Bell 412EPI for its UH-X requirement to replace the
UH-1J workhorse utility helicopter
(above)(Photo: JGSDF) 

Destined for service with the Western Army HQ Flight, this aircraft was fitted with a radome for
satellite communications equipment in the summer of 2021.

(Photo [Sendai, August 2021]: 飛行機・鉄道大好きな人via Twitter @kimi_boku_anata)
(See also Bulletin Board entry for September 2021.)

The second CH-47JA delivered to the JGSDF was in service with the 3rd ‘Kingfisher’ Flight
of the Western Helicopter Squadron at Takayubaru in 2020.

(Photo [posted Oct. 2020]: 空のウオンバット* via Twitter @Umi_Sora_2)

(Above and below) The rare sight of a JGSDF AH-64D on board the JMSDF helicopter carrier
Hyūga, which carried two during Exercise Keen Sword, the U.S.-Japan joint training exercise
that was held in the waters around Okinawa from late October to early November 2020.
(Photos: [top] Japan Ministry of Defense/JMSDF Mine Warfare Force;
[above] JMSDF Public Affairs Office via Twitter@JMSDF_PAO)

Central Readiness Force*** (HQ: Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture)

1st Helicopter Brigade***
(Kisarazu, Chiba)

1st Transport
Helicopter Group
103rd Sqn CH-47J/JA
104th Sqn
105th Sqn
106th Sqn
Transport Aviation Group


(107th Sqn) V-22B
(108th Sqn) V-22B
109th Sqn+ CH-47J/JA
102nd Sqn UH-60JA
Special Transport Helicopter Sqn EC225LP
Liaison/Reconnaissance Flight LR-2

(***) In a move associated with the activation of  the JGSDF’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade on April 7, 2018, the command of the 1st Helicopter Brigade passed to the direct command of the Ground Staff Office. 
+ Formed under the Transport Aviation Group at Takayubaru, Kumamoto Prefecture, on March 26, 2020, in advance of first Osprey arrivals in July.

The JGSDF’s Transport Aviation Group commenced full-fledged V-22B Osprey flight operations
from Kisarazu in November 2020.

(Photos [Iwakuni, July 2020]: U.S. Indo-Pacific Command via Twitter @INDOPACOM)

ch-47j pairDrafted in from their base at Kisarazu, a pair of 106th Sqn CH-47J Chinooks pass each other as
they fly members of the public along the length of the runway and back at Tachikawa,
a traditional activity during the base’s autumn Disaster Prevention Festival. 
ch-47grass  A hovering CH-47JA from the Kisarazu-based 1st Transport Helicopter Group kicks up a grass storm. 

CH-47JA TateyamaA 103rd Sqn CH-47JA at JMSDF Tateyama in October 2013      

jgsdf ec225lp
(Above and below) Two of the three Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) EC225LPs operated by the
Special Transport Helicopter Squadron.

ec225

Aviation Schools (HQ: Akeno, Mie Prefecture)
Main Aviation School Akeno AH-1S, AH-64D, CH-47JA, OH-1, TH-480B, UH-1J, UH-60JA
Branch Aviation Schools Kasumigaura, Ibaraki AH-1S, AH-64D, CH-47J/JA, OH-1, UH-1J, UH-60JA
Utsunomiya, Tochigi TH-480B, UH-1J
Training Support Flights Akeno AH-1S, AH-64D, CH-47J/JA, OH-1, UH-1J, UH-60JA
Takigahara, Shizuoka UH-1J

akeno ch-47jaA CH-47JA assigned to the Training Support Flight at Akeno, Mie Prefecture. (Photo: JGSDF)

A UH-60JA and UH-1J assigned to the Training Support Flight at Akeno in November 2017.
(Photo: Andy Binks)

CH-47J Kasumigaura
Two aircraft assigned to the branch Aviation School at Kasumigaura, Ibaraki Prefecture: an early-model CH-47J  (above), with the school’s “SK” identification code visible aft of the cockpit,
and an AH-64D Apache Longbow (below).

Kasumigaura AH-64D

utsulr-2
The Raytheon (Beechcraft) LR-2 assigned to the branch of the JGSDF Aviation School at
Kita-Utsunomiya speeds in to land, while one of the based Fuji-Bell UH-1Js
(below) stands at ease.
Replacing one lost in an accident in May 2017, a ninth LR-2 arrived in Japan in November 2020. 
 utsuuh-1h

Training, Evaluation Research and Development Command (TERCOM, HQ: Meguro, Tokyo)
Test & Evaluation Command (TECOM) HQ Fuji, Shizuoka
Aviation Test & Evaluation Unit Akeno, Mie OH-1, XUH-2

th-480Prior to the arrival of the first two V-22B Ospreys in May 2020, the latest type to be added to the
JGSDF’s inventory was the Enstrom TH-480B training helicopter, 26 of which were in
service by mid-January 2015. Interestingly, Enstrom was acquired by China’s
Chongqing Helicopter Investment Corporation in January 2013.

th-480wave
RECENT TYPE RETIREMENT

In early 2020 still operated by the 3rd, 4th, 8th, 10th and 13th AvSqns, the 102nd Sqn as well as the HQ Flight of the 12th Helicopter Squadron, which flew the last mission, the OH-6D was officially withdrawn from service on March 31.

Never to be seen again. A lineup of 10th and 13th AvSqn OH-6Ds at the November 2019 Akeno
air show, the last to feature them before the type’s retirement.
(Photo: JGSDF/10th AvSqn)

According to a report in the June 2020 issue of Kōkū Fan magazine, 17 OH-6Ds had newly arrived to join those that have long since been awaiting their fate on “death row” in a Kasumigaura hangar. After the removal of reusable items of equipment, a few will be used for instructional purposes or placed on display, but the majority will be either sold or scrapped. At the time of writing (April 2020), of the 193 OH-6Ds built a total of around 65 remain scattered around the country.

During the type’s service career, a total of 12 aircraft were lost in accidents. The first occurred on May 30, 1983, the last on April 16, 2015, when the tail unit was severed during an emergency landing in a rice paddy in the Miyagino district of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. The aircraft had been on post-maintenance test flight; the pilot and a maintenance team member escaped uninjured. Half of the losses came as the result of midair collisions: on two occasions (July 10, 1987, and March 7, 2002) between two OH-6Ds; on another (February 14, 2001) with an AH-1S; and on yet another (August 21, 1997) with a civilian light aircraft. These four incidents alone tragically claimed the lives of 12 OH-6D crew members. 

oh-6dThe tail marking of this OH-6D denoted an aircraft assigned to the 1st Division’s 1st AvSqn at Tachikawa.

Those still with the JGSDF include six at Kita-Utsunomiya Aviation School formerly used for pilot ground training and maintenance instructional airframe purposes, the latter being a role for which some might yet receive a stay of execution. The type is popular as a gate guardian and around 14 are on display at JGSDF army camps at which there is no based aviation unit.

Aside from one privileged example retained by licensed manufacturer Kawasaki, a number of others have been acquired for technical training purposes at aeronautical colleges or loaned for display in public parks and even nursery schools. As listed on the JGSDF Where Are They Now? page, some are composite aircraft that have been fitted with another’s tailboom.

OH-6D RikuzentakataAn OH-6D from the Northern Region Helicopter Squadron hovers over the scene of devastation in
Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on April 12, 2011. The building on the left was the pharmacy 
near the station in the city that suffered the most catastrophic damage of any of those affected
by the March 11 tsunami. Like its sister services, the JGSDF plays a vital role as a first
responder and in ongoing rescue operations at times of natural disasters.
(Photo: Japan Ministry of Defense via Wikimedia Commons)

JGSDF Akeno Army Camp, March 17, 2020. 10th AvSqn personnel look on as the unit’s last two
OH-6Ds recede into the distance.
(Photo: JGSDF/10th AvSqn)

(Photo [undated, JGSDF Yao Army Camp]: JGSDF Middle Army PR via Twitter @JGSDF_MA_pr)

logors25

Notices

Announcements

JASDF
Airshows in 2021
Nov. 3  Iruma
              (Cancelled)
Dec. 5  Nyutabaru

Airshows in 2020
All cancelled

Airshows in 2019
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
Sept. 16  Komatsu
Oct. 13  Ashiya
Oct. 20  Hamamatsu
Nov. 3  Iruma
Nov. 9  Komaki
Nov. 10  Gifu 
Nov. 23  Kasuga
Dec. 1  Hyakuri
Dec. 7-8  Naha
Dec. 8  Tsuiki
Dec. 15  Nyutabaru

air-festa-hohu_img2019rs

iruma191103(2)rs

JGSDF
Airshows in 2021
TBA

Airshows in 2020
With exception of
Akeno (only limited
access), all cancelled

Airshows in 2019
narashino1ab2019koukahajimersJan. 13  Narashino
 (paratroop display)
Apr. 13  Kasuminome
Apr. 13  Somagahara
May 12  Takayubaru
June 1  Kasumigaura
June 16  Kita-Utsunomiya
June 23  Okadama
Oct. 6  Metabaru
Nov. 3  Akeno
Nov. 9  Tachikawa
Nov. 17  Naha
Nov. 24  Yao
Dec. 8  Kisarazu

metabaru191006rs

tachikawa191109rs
Tachikawa

JMSDF
Airshows in 2021
TBA

Airshows in 2020
All cancelled

Airshows in 2019
Apr. 27  Atsugi
Apr. 28  Kanoya
May 5  Iwakuni
(joint Friendship Day)
May 18  Maizuru
May 19  Ohmura
July 13-14
          Komatsushima
July 27  Tateyama
Sept. 21  Hachinohe
ozuki191020rs

Oct. 20  Ozuki
Oct. 26 Shimofusa
Nov. 17  Tokushima

oomura190519rs

shimofusa191026rs

(*) Date to be confirmed

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

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