F-15J
NY Times: "Japan Shifting Further Away From Pacifism"

NY Times: “Japan Shifting Further Away From Pacifism”

To be sure, the article itself is solid and talks to all the right people, including Professor Richard Samuels and Associate Professor Michishita Narushige who are both outstanding scholars of Japan’s security strategy. Ultimately, despite appearances below, the article doesn’t bother me all that much. But it provides a good opportunity to reflect on a few...

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To Counter China, Defense Ministry Considering F-15s at Civilian Airport

Well, this is certainly interesting: Japan is considering using a civil airfield in the Ryukyu islands to base F-15s, because those based on Okinawa are too far away. The planes would be stationed on Shimojijima Island, which is much closer to the Japan-administered Senkakus, which China claims as the Diaoyu, than to Okinawa’s prefectural capital...

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Russian Flying Museum Visits Japan

  According to RIA Novrosti, five Russian military aircraft flew near Japan yesterday, causing Japanese air defenses to scramble. According to the ministry, a total of five Russian planes, including two Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, two Su-24 Fencer reconnaissance planes and an A-50 Mainstay airborne early warning and control aircraft skirted Japanese territory on Wednesday....

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News Flash: Tanaka Replaces Private Secretary, F15 Parts Lost 115 Times Since 2007, Shiga Requests SDF Snow Aid

There are a series of very important small pieces of news in the press today:

Defense Minister Tanaka Replaces Private Secretary

After several gaffes by the new defense minister, see Shisaku for an excellent list, Naoki Tanaka has replaced his private secretary and reinstated former Defense Minister Kitazawa’s secretary in hopes of releasing some of the incredible pressure he is under at the Diet.

An experienced defense policy professional, Manabu Mannami stepped down today after two years as private secretary, and Takahiro Yoshida returns to Ichigaya from the Ministry’s Defense Planning Bureau. Tanaka blames Mannami’s ineptitude for his poor Diet performance, and stated that he wanted to be prepared to deal with the current Budgetary Committee deliberations.  The Asahi states that officials at the ministry believe the change came at his wife’s requestMakiko Tanaka was Koizumi’s Foreign Minister and is a powerful Ozawa supporter.

 

F15 Parts Lost on 115 Occasions Since 2007

The Asahi reports that since 2007, there have been 115 incidents of parts falling from ASDF F15s mid-flight – of which only nine were reported to the local government, and only six were officially announced to the press. The ASDF says that small parts frequently drop off with little chance of damage, but local authorities complain that this information should be passed on regardless.

The study, made by the ASDF Staff Office, covers incidents spanning from April 2007 to December 2011. Most of the incidents involve bolts or screws dropping from the plane. By base, the figures are as follows:

  • Hyakuri (Ibaraki): 29 incidents
  • Nyutabara (Miyazaki): 22 incidents
  • Tsuiki (Fukuoka): 20 incidents
  • Komatsu (Ishikawa): 16 incidents
  • Chitose (Hokkaido): 14 incidents
  • Naha (Okinawa): 10 incidents
  • Gifu (Gifu): 2 incidents

 

SDF Deployed to Handle Shiga Snow

For the first time in 31 years, the SDF were requested to aid Shiga Prefecture with the record snowfall. The SDF were requested by Shiga and Kyoto Prefecutures following a record 87 centimeters of snow (as recorded in Maizuru, Kyoto). The snow has left 21 households and 56 people isolated in the town of Makino in Takashima, Shiga.

The SDF can be called into action by local authorities to deal with disaster situations, and they are frequently requested for help against heavy snow. For information on the involvement of the SDF in local snow operations, see my post from last year.

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Factlet #2: Until 2011, Japan had domestically produced fighters for 55 continuous years

This week’s factlet will come as no surprise to regular readers: until the last F2 fighter rolled off Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ production line last December, Japan had been producing fighters domestically for 55 years without interruption.

Mitsubishi has produced all of Japan’s domestically-built fighters in continuous production since the first construction began on the F86 Sabre under license in 1956. The break in production is a terrifying prospect for Mitsubishi and IHI (jet engine manufacturer), who fear a loss of skills and construction/development capability. Japan maintains these skills through research platforms such the ATD-X ‘Shinshin’, as well as through securing some measure of assembly and production through the F35 deal with Lockheed Martin.

In January 2010, Nikkei Business wrote a special feature on Japan’s defense aircraft entitled “Last Chance”. That article featured a chart depicting the domestically-developed fighter program, translated and updated below. Note that the F1 is the only fighter on the list that was domestically developed and produced. All the other fighters were produced under license from American companies.Whether this current gap bodes well for the FXX program (seeking the successor to the F15J) or not remains to be seen.

Click the image below for the full-sized chart:

Timeline of domestic fighter production in Japan

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Is F-35 the Right Choice for Japan?

Is F-35 the Right Choice for Japan?

Examining some of the perspectives that grew out of international media coverage of Japan's decision to purchase the F-35 as a replacement to its aging fleet of F-4 Phantoms.

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F-15 Goes Off-Road in Okinawa As News of Kim Jong-il's Death Breaks

F-15 Goes Off-Road in Okinawa As News of Kim Jong-il's Death Breaks

As the world hears of the death of Kim Jong-il, the ASDF scrambles an F-15 from Naha Air Base which subsequently rides off the runway. The timing raises suspicion, but the real news is in the disruption it caused to the civilian airport it shares a runway with.

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F-15 loses part mid-flight on the day after F-15s returned to the air

F-15 loses part mid-flight on the day after F-15s returned to the air

Only one day on from being ordered back into the air, an ASDF F-15 out of Nyutabaru Air Base lost an aluminum component from its wing during a training flight. What is happening to Japan's F-15 fleet?

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Toshiba and MoD go to war

Toshiba and MoD go to war

Toshiba and MoD return to court to fight for compensation following the cancellation of a contract which would have seen Toshiba upgrading F-15J fighters into reconnaissance planes.

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F-X Delays Bring About End to 55 Straight Years of Domestic Fighter Production

F-X Delays Bring About End to 55 Straight Years of Domestic Fighter Production

Weekly Diamond considers the future of Japanese fighter production with the F-X program and beyond as Japan shuts down its domestic fighter production with the final delivery of the F-2.

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JASDF F-15 Crashed in East China Sea, Pilot Missing

JASDF F-15 Crashed in East China Sea, Pilot Missing

A F-15J from the ASDF's 203rd Squadron based at Naha, Okinawa has been confirmed crashed. Pilot unaccounted for.

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Japan-Australia Military Ties Advance: Joint Air Force Drills

Japan-Australia Military Ties Advance: Joint Air Force Drills

The ASDF and the Royal Australian Air Force will conduct joint training drills in Alaska next month on the sidelines of RED FLAG-ALASKA.

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