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Japanese Air Self-Defense Force

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Japanese Air Self-Defense Force

Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Founded July 1, 1954
Country Japan
Size 45,000 personnel (2005)
791 aircraft[1] (2013)
Part of Japan Self-Defense Forces
General Haruhiko Kataoka
(Chief of Staff, Air Self Defense Force)
Aircraft flown
Attack F-2
E-767, EC-1, E-2C
Fighter F-4EJ, F-15J/DJ, F-2
Helicopter UH-60J, CH-47J, KV-107
Interceptor F-15J
Trainer F-15DJ, T-7, T-400, T-4
Transport C-1, KC-767J, C-130H

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (航空自衛隊 Kōkū Jieitai?), or JASDF, is the aviation branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces responsible for the defense of Japanese airspace and other aerospace operations.[2] The JASDF carries out combat air patrols around Japan, while also maintaining an extensive network of ground and air early warning radar systems. The branch also has an aerobatic team known as Blue Impulse and has recently been involved in providing air transport in several UN peacekeeping missions.

The JASDF had an estimated 45,000 personnel in 2005, and as of 2013 operates 791 aircraft.[1] Of those 791 aircraft in service approximately 350 are fighter aircraft.[1]



Before forming the Japanese Self-Defense Forces after World War II, Japan did not have a separate air force. Aviation operations were carried out by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. Following World War II the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy were dissolved and replaced by the JSDF with the passing of the 1954 Self-Defense Forces Law with the JASDF as the aviation branch.


Major units of the JASDF are the Air Defense Command, Air Support Command, Air Training Command, Air Development and Test Command, and Air Materiel Command. The Air Support Command is responsible for direct support of operational forces in rescue, transportation, control, weather monitoring and inspection. The Air Training Command is responsible for basic flying and technical training. The Air Development and Test Command, in addition to overseeing equipment research and development, is also responsible for research and development in such areas as flight medicine.

The Air Defense Command has northern, central, and western regional headquarters located at Misawa, Iruma, and Kasuga, respectively and the Southwestern Composite Air Division based at Naha on Okinawa. All four regional headquarters control surface-to-air missile units of both the JASDF and the JGSDF located in their respective areas.

  • Prime Minister of Japan
    • Minister of Defense
      • JASDF Chief of Staff / Air Staff Office
        • Air Defense Command: Yokota AB, Fussa, Tokyo
          • Northern Air Defense Force: Misawa, Aomori
            • 2nd Air Wing (Chitose Air Base: 201SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4; 203SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4)
            • 3rd Air Wing (Misawa Air Base: 3SQ, F-2A/B T-4; 8SQ, F-2A/B, T-4)
            • Northern Aircraft Control & Warning Wing
            • 3rd Air Defense Missile Group
            • 6th Air Defense Missile Group
          • Central Air Defense Force: Iruma, Saitama
            • 6th Air Wing (Komatsu Air Base: 303SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4; 306SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4)
            • 7th Air Wing (Hyakuri Air Base: 302SQ, F-4EJ-Kai, T-4; 305SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4)
            • Middle Aircraft Control & Warning Wing
            • 1st Air Defense Missile Group
            • 4th Air Defense Missile Group
            • Iwo Jima Air Base Group
          • Western Air Defense Force: Kasuga, Fukuoka
            • 5th Air Wing (Nyutabaru Air Base: 301SQ, F-4EJ-Kai, T-4)
            • 8th Air Wing (Tsuiki Air Base: 304SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4; 6SQ, F-2A/B, T-4)
            • Western Aircraft Control & Warning Wing
            • 2nd Air Defense Missile Group
          • Southwestern Composite Air Division: Naha, Okinawa
            • 83d Air Wing (Naha Air Base: 204SQ, F-15J/DJ, T-4)
            • Southwestern Aircraft Control & Warning Group
            • 5th Air Defense Missile Group
          • Airborne Early Warning Group: Misawa Air Base(E-2C), Hamamatsu Air Base(E-767)
          • Tactical Reconnaissance Group: Hyakuri Air Base(RF-4E, RF-4EJ)
          • Tactical Fighter Training Group: Nyutabaru Air Base(F-15DJ/J, T-4)
          • Air Defense Missile Training Group: Hamamatsu, Chitose
          • Air Defense Command Headquarters Flight Group (Iruma Air Base: U-4, YS-11EA,YS-11EB, T-4, EC-1)
      • Air Support Command: Fuchu, Tokyo
      • Air Training Command: Hamamatsu, Shizuoka
      • Air Development and Test Command: Iruma Air Base, Saitama
        • Air Development and Test Wing (Gifu Air Base: F-15J/DJ, F-2A/B, C-1FTB, F-4EJ, F-4EJ-kai, T-7, T-4)
        • Electronics Development and Test Group
        • Aeromedical Laboratory
      • Air Material Command: Jujou, Tokyo
        • 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th Air Depot
      • Air Staff College
      • Air Communications and Systems Wing
      • Aerosafety Service Group
      • Central Air Base Group
      • Others


Ranks are listed with the lower rank at right.

Officer & Warrant Officer
Insignia General
Type A
Type B
Insignia Senior
1st Class
Type A
Type B


The JASDF maintains an integrated network of radar installations and air defense direction centers throughout the country known as the Basic Air Defense Ground Environment. In the late 1980s, the system was modernized and augmented with E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft.

The nation relies on fighter-interceptor aircraft and surface-to-air missiles to intercept hostile aircraft. Both of these systems were improved from the beginning of the late 1980s. Outmoded aircraft were replaced in the early 1990s with more sophisticated models, and Nike-J missiles have been replaced with the modern Patriot PAC-2 system.

The JASDF also provides air support for ground and sea operations of the JGSDF and the JMSDF and air defense for bases of all the forces. Although support fighter squadrons started being modernized in 1989, they lacked precision-guided weapons for support of ground operations and attacks on hostile ships, and JASDF pilots receive little flight training over oceans to prepare for maritime operations. Base defenses were upgraded in the late 1980s with new surface-to-air missiles, modern antiaircraft artillery and new fixed and mobile aircraft shelters.

The JASDF is not allowed to have strategic bombers for that would go against the self-defense–only policy.

See also List of military aircraft of Japan

Aircraft inventory

Aircraft Role Versions Quantity[1] Note
Combat aircraft
Mitsubishi F-2 Fighter Aircraft F-2A
12 F-2B were damaged during the Tsunami and were scrapped.
Mitsubishi F-15 Eagle Fighter Aircraft F-15J
F-4 Phantom II Fighter Aircraft & Reconnaissance F/EF/RF-4EJ 80 Being phased out. Capability to be replaced by existing F-15s and future F-35As.
Boeing E-767 Airborne Early Warning & Control E-767 4
Grumman E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning E-2C 13
Aerial refueling aircraft
Boeing 767 Tanker Aircraft Boeing KC-767J 4
Transport aircraft
C-130 Hercules Transport Aircraft C-130H 15
Kawasaki C-1 Transport Aircraft
Electronic Warfare
Boeing 747 VIP Transport 747-47C 2 (Japanese Air Force One/Two)
Gulfstream IV VIP Transport U-4 5
NAMC YS-11 VIP Transport
Electronic Warfare
Training Aircraft
A need for the replacement of the YS-11 in GSDF service has been acknowledged but is currently a low priority.[3]
Search and rescue aircraft
BAe 125 Search & Rescue
Trainer aircraft
Kawasaki T-4 Trainer Aircraft 203
Raytheon Hawker 400 Trainer T-400 13
Fuji T-7 Trainer Aircraft 48
Boeing CH-47 Chinook Transport Helicopter CH-47J 19
Mitsubishi H-60 Search & Rescue UH-60J 41

Other equipment

Future equipment

Aircraft Type Versions Number built Notes
Mitsubishi ATD-X Demo jet fighter - - Maiden flight expected in 2014.[10]
Kawasaki C-2 Tactical airlift - 2 Entering service in 2011. It is estimated that 30–50 will be produced. Currently this project is named C-X
F-X Fighter F-35A - On 20 December 2011 the Japanese Government announced that it intended to purchase 50 F-35s[11]
RQ-4 Global Hawk Recon UAV - 1 One to be operated jointly with the U.S. by 2015.[12]


Past equipment

See also

References and notes

External links

  • (English)
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