F-2B Fighter at Matsushima Air Base, March 2011.

Twelve of the eighteen fighters damaged when a tsunami inundated Matsushima Air Base are to be written off as unsalvageable. Worth approximately $1.3 billion USD, the planes were too badly damaged to be repaired.

Twelve Mitsubishi F-2 fighters used by the Air Self-Defense Force were damaged beyond repair by the March 11 tsunami and will be scrapped, the Defense Ministry said.

Six others will be repaired at an estimated cost of 80 billion yen ($1 billion), the ministry said, more than the original purchase price of the six aircraft.

The 18 F-2s were stationed at the Matsushima Air Base in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture.

According to the ministry, the jets were damaged when the air field was inundated with tsunami seawater 2 meters in height.

The ministry spent 13.6 billion yen trying to determine whether the aircraft could be repaired. After months of examination, it decided that 12 of the F-2s were too heavily damaged to return to service. The jets will be parted out with undamaged components salvaged for use in other jets or equipment.

The ministry requested a total of about 109 billion, including 80 billion yen for repairing aircraft, to be included in the third supplementary budget to be submitted to the Diet.

The F-2s at Matsushima Air Base were mainly used for training and educating pilots. (Link)

The fighters at Matsushima Air Base achieved iconic status in the aftermath of the 3/11 disaster. The images of F-2s crumpled against the side of the airport building, as though casually swept aside by some giant hand, were symbolic of nature’s power over man’s most sophisticated instruments of war.

One hundred and nine billion yen is $1.4 billion USD, so the MoD was obviously willing to spend a lot of money to return these fighters to service. It’s a loss to be sure, but ultimately it dwindles to insignificance compared to the human suffering of 3/11.


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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 596 post(s) on Japan Security Watch