Air forces

Shukan Bunshun: Senkaku Naval Battle: JSDF’s Secret Simulation

Another article, translated by a JSW pal, from the Japanese weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun, October 4, 2012. Senkaku Naval Battle: JSDF’s Secret Simulation “China is definitely planning a strategy to conquer the Senkaku Islands,” claimed senior researcher of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Richard Fisher.  The chance of a Senkaku Battle is not...

TRDI's New Toy: Unmanned 4x4

TRDI’s New Toy: Unmanned 4×4

Strike and Tactical magazine has an exclusive this month covering the Technical Research and Development Institute's new toy: an unmanned 4x4

Key Figures from the MoD FY2013 Budget Request

Key Figures from the MoD FY2013 Budget Request

The Ministry of Defense publishes its FY2013 budget appropriations request including several previously unreported figures.

Japanese Cameras Catch Chinese Naval UAV Again

Japanese Cameras Catch Chinese Naval UAV Again

The Japanese MSDF once more catches a Chinese UAV in flight, but with shots of the deck, might we also learn more of the capacity of the ships carrying them?

Japan's F-35 Sticker Shock

Japan’s F-35 Sticker Shock

It’s sticker shock in Shinjuku time. 238 million US dollars. That’s how much each Japanese F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is going to cost, including maintenance and training expenses. From the U.S. Department of Defense announcement (h/t Mike Yeo): All aircraft will be configured with the Pratt and Whitney F-135 engines, and 5 spare Pratt and...


The Mystery of Japan’s KC-130 Buy

JSW pal Mike Yeo posted last week at his blog, The Base Leg, about a strange Japan Self Defense Forces purchase. Japan is purchasing 6 ex-US Marine Corps KC-130R transport/refueling aircraft. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency says in a statement: The Government of Japan has requested a possible sale to provide 6 KC-130R and 30...


Mainichi: Japan tells U.S. it may halt F-35 purchase if prices rise

From Mainichi Daily News yesterday:

Japan tells U.S. it may halt F-35 purchase if prices rise

[...] In a letter dated Feb. 13, the ministry expressed its concern to the Pentagon over a rise in the price tag of the F-35, which is being developed by an international consortium led by U.S. aircraft maker Lockheed Martin Corp., the sources said.

The ministry also requested a review of the procurement system under a foreign military sales arrangement that allows the United States to change prices at its discretion, the sources said.


The letter was sent by Hideshi Tokuchi, chief of the ministry’s bureau of finance and equipment, and addressed to Frank Kendall, acting under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

Tokuchi said in the letter that the possibility of canceling the F-35 procurement in the event its price rises cannot be denied. If the price does go up and the matter is deliberated in parliament, it would “invite severe criticism” and “jeopardize” the F-35 procurement plan, he said. [...]

Read more at the Mainichi Daily News site

It will be a great shame if Japan cancels its orders of the F-35 due to a price range, not least because the ASDF could really do with being shot of the F-X program so that it can look ahead to the successor to the F-15Js which seem to be slowly deteriorating.

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Two Fuels Tanks Drop Off F-2 Fighter

ASDF F-2 Fighter with three fuel tanks - one mounted on each wing, and one attached to the fuselage

ASDF F-2 Fighter with three fuel tanks - one mounted on each wing, and one attached to the fuselage (Source: Mariana)

While accidents involving parts falling off the F-15 have proven quite common recently, it is the F-2 that is making headlines with this latest incident near Guam.

According to NHK, who have a video report accompanying their article, on Feb. 16th, while conducting joint training with US forces (presumably Exercise COPE NORTH) over the Pacific, two fuel tanks fell from an ASDF F-2 fighter. According to the ASDF, the tanks were both seen falling into the sea and there are no reports of any damage as a result of the accident.

The tanks are 6 meters long with a diameter of 80 cm and a weight of 170 kg a piece when empty.

The ASDF is currently investigating the incident and searching for the tanks, so if you spot two floating torpedo-shaped objects in the Pacific near Guam this week, be sure to contact someone at Andersen Air Force Base where the ASDF are housed during COPE NORTH.

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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....


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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Daily Yomiuri: Mitsubishi Electric hit with suspension for bill padding

The Defense Ministry and two other government entities have suspended Mitsubishi Electric Corp. as a designated contractor because the company has been found to have inflated invoices, the ministry has announced.

The ministry, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Cabinet Satellite Intelligence Center made the announcements and suspended the company Friday for unspecified periods. The ministry added that Mitsubishi contacted it to admit the allegations the same day.

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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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