Supercruise Aviation - Article
Japan Self Defense Forces
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In the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) there are 3 services that fly with airplanes. These are Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force The JSDF was established after the end of the post-World War II American occupation of Japan. For most of the post-war period the forces were confined to the islands of Japan and not permitted to be deployed abroad. In recent years, they have been engaged in international peacekeeping operations.

Japan's Basic Policy for National Defense stipulates the following policies:
- Maintaining an exclusive defense oriented policy.
- To avoid becoming a major military power that might pose a threat to the world.
- Refraining from the development of nuclear weapons, and to refuse to allow nuclear weapons inside Japanese
1 territory.
- Maintaining security arrangements with the United States.
- Building up defensive capabilities within moderate limits.
- Ensuring civilian control of the military.

Based on the Self-Defense Forces Law of 1954, the nation's defense establishment is organized to ensure civilian control of the armed forces. The result has been a unique military system. All JSDF personnel are technically civilians: those in uniform are classified as special civil servants and are subordinate to the ordinary civil servants who run the Defense Agency. There is no military secrets law, and offenses committed by military personnel- -whether on base or off base, on duty or off duty, of military or nonmilitary nature--are all adjudicated under normal procedures by civil courts in appropriate jurisdictions. On January 7, 2007, the Japan Defense Agency was upgraded to Ministry of Defense, a Cabinet-level

Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF)

The JASDF, is the aviation branch of the Japan Ministry of Defense responsible for the defense of Japanese airspace and other aerospace operations. 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 aerobatics team known as Blue Impulse.

Major units of the JASDF are the Air Defense Command, Air Support Command, Air Training Command, Air Development and Test Command and Air Matériel 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 Imperial Japanese Navy developed this airfield in 1937. Planning for the Air Self-Defense Force base began in 1956, and the base was established in 1966. In 2000, an organization was established for joint civilian use, and construction of a passenger terminal started in 2005.

This airbase is home to all of the JASDF's reconnaissance Phantoms. They share the base with two very active F-15 squadrons and all three Hikotai have their own T-4s for various tasks. Additionally, there is the rescue flight with
U-125s and UH-60s

The area around Hyakuri is almost flat and certainly not as heavily populated as the nearby metropolitan area. This makes it possible to reach the airfield perimeter from many sides, which is a good thing with a nearly north-south runway (sun moves through the centerline) and often changing winds. The distance to the runway from most spotting points calls for lenses of 400mm effective.


This JASDF base is located in the city of Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, north of western Tokyo, Japan. The base was previously a United States Air Force base named Johnson Air Base, and was established in 1937 as an Imperial Japanese Army Air Force and named Irumagawa Airfield. The base was taken over by U.S. forces during the occupation of Japan and renamed in honor of Gerald A. Johnson, a fighter ace killed in an air crash after the war.

Iruma Air Base is currently home to the Air Defence Command Headquarters Flight Group. Aircraft located at the base include the U-4, YS-11EA, YS-11EB, T-4, and EC-1).

The best place for taking pictures, is in front of a hospital. At this place you are about 5 m above the taxiway that is leading to the start of runway 17.

Inside the bases there is nice collection of preserved aircraft's. With a stepladder its possible to take pictures of this 5 preserved aircraft's.


Komaki Air Base is the military name for Nagoya Airport. Nagoya Airport was actually opened in 1944 as a military airport. Currently the following aircraft are located here, C-130H, UH-60J and U-125A. When fully operational, the KC-767 tanker will be based here.

Komaki is also the home of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the new fighter, the F-2 is being build here. Also part for civile airplanes are made here.


On this Air Base is the Air Development and Test Squadron of the Japanese Self-Defense Force. Also this the home of Kawasaki Heavy Industries Aeroplane division.

Gifu is located on top of hill and there are not many places where you can take good photo's. The best places are at ends of the runway and then about 100 meters in the field.

Most of the time there is not a lot flying going on, but now that there are testing the two new airplanes, the P-1 maritime patrol aircraft and the C-2 transport aircraft, there is the possibility for more flying.


Nyutabaru, close to the city of Miyazaki at the southern island Kyushu, is probably the main destination for aircraft enthusiasts going to Japan. Super base Nyutabaru is close to paradise for aircraft photographers on this planet.

Nyutabaru Airbase is situated north from the city of Miyazaki, near Shintomi. If you enter the town by the Miyazaki expressway you will find the coastal road, the Hitosuba toll road which takes you to the north. The Hitosuba will converge into road number 10 and immediately after that you should turn into road number 14. This will lead you to road 219. After a few kilometers you can turn right to the 44 which will bring you to the base.

The whole base is packed with aircraft. Two squadrons of Eagles and one squadron with Phantoms are based here as well as support aircraft like Blackhawks and Mu-2's. What also makes this base very special is the presence of the Hiko Kyodotai, the Aggressor unit of the Japanese Air Force. This unit has 7 F-15DJ two-seat aircraft and one F-15J single seater. Special feature is that all eight of them are painted in a different, striking, color scheme.

The Aggressors


This training base is host to 11 Hiko Kyoikudan which flies the Fuji T-7 and is used for basic flying training. The unit also operated the T-3, but it was withdrawn from service in 2006 after 28 years of service.

With mount Fuji at the background, is this training base a small air base, where only the T-7 now are flying. They have twenty-four T-7 at this base. It is easy taking photo's at this base, because almost along the whole runway is a road.


At Hamamatsu one can find the 1 Kokudan (1st Air Wing) which has two training squadrons (31st and 32nd Hikotai), both operating the Kawasaki T-4. This subsonic intermediate jet trainer aircraft is used to train future Air Force jet pilots the basics of jet flying.

Next to these small jets, the E-767's can also be found here. The Boeing E-767 is an Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. It is essentially the E-3 Sentry equipment built in a Boeing 767-200 platform and was specifically designed on request of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF)

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, or JMSDF, is the maritime branch of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, tasked with the naval defense of Japan and formed following the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Navy after World War II.

The JMSDF flies some 179 fixed-wing aircraft and 135 helicopters. Most of these aircraft are used in antisubmarine and mine warfare operations.

The Fleet Air Force is tasked with patrol, ASW and rescue tasks. It is composed primarily of 7 aviation groups. Prominent bases are maintained at Kanoya, Hachinohe, Atsugi, Naha, Tateyama, Oomura and Iwakuni. The Fleet Air Force is built up mainly with patrol aircraft such as the Lockheed P-3 Orion, rescue aircraft such as the US-1A and helicopters such as the SH-60J. In the JMSDF, helicopters deployed to each escort force are actually members of Fleet Air Force squadrons based on land.


Atsugi is a naval air base located in the cities of Yamato and Ayase in Kanagawa Prefecture. The Imperial Japanese Navy constructed the base in 1938 to house the Japanese 302 Naval Aviation Corps. On the base is also the largest United States Navy air base in the Pacific and houses the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 5.

Atsugi houses several units of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. Three P-3C Orion units based at Atsugi, one is the 6 Kokutai which was the first JMSDF squadron to be equipped with the Orion. 51 Kokutai is a test squadron divided in 511 Hikotai which operates the P-3's and 513 Hikotai which operates the SH-60J's. Other units are 61 Kokutai flying the YS-11 and a squadron detachment from 71 Kokutai with the famous US-1A.


Kanoya naval base is the most Southern Naval Air Station of the Japanese mainland. It was opened in 1936 and almost half the World War II kamikaze flights departed from here.

Nowadays, it's home to two squadrons equipped with the P-3 Orion patrol aircraft, and one squadron of OH-6's which primary mission is to train new naval aviators. Of course there's also the local SAR flight (Koku Kichitai) which uses the license built Mitsubishi UH-60J.

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF)

The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force or JGSDF, is the military ground force (army) of Japan. The largest of the three services of the JSDF, the Ground Self-Defense Force operates under the command of the chief of the ground staff, based in the city of Ichigaya, Tokyo.

The aviation assets of the JGSDF are organized in five Regional Army Aviation Group (Homen Kokutai); Hokubu (Northern); Tohoku (Northeastern); Tobu (Eastern); Chubu (Central) and Seibu (Western). A Homen Kokutai typically consists of an Army Helicopter squadron (Homen Herikoputatai) equipped with UH-1 and OH-6 helicopters, an Army Air Group Headquarters Squadron (Homen Kokutai Honbu Zukitai) with LR-1 as well as an Anti-Tank helicopter squadron (Taisensha Herikoputatai) equipped with AH-1S and OH-6D. In addition each assigned division (Shidan) has it's own liaison squadron also equipped with mostly OH-6D. The numbering of these squadrons (Hikotai) reflects the division to which it is assigned.

The Western Army structure differs slightly as it is assigned to the 1st Konseidan which operates from Naha at Okinawa. Its Homen Herikoputatai is the only one which also has a small number of CH-47JA's on charge. An airlift brigade is based at Kisarazu consisting of two squadrons of 16 CH-47J/JA Chinooks and two OH-6D each.


Akeno is the perfect place to enjoy helicopter action. A typical day will see a lot of flying by a multitude of types, viewable from short distance and without obstacles, so photography is great too. Nearly every rotary type of the JGSDF is based here, including the OH-1 and AH-64, and so are a few Coast Guard helicopters. Finally, police (Keisatsu-choo) helicopters are regulars here too. The base lies southwest of Ise Bay (Ise-wan, south of Nagoya) close to Ise city. As with most army airfields in Japan, the flying usually stops early afternoon after which the helicopters are hangared again.

This is a compact helicopter base where nearly every part of the surface is either built on, or used for maneuvering. On the runway and apron sides, the field is very open allowing for easy reading and photography. Tiny roads lead to the perimeter and you can literally stand in rotor downwash during the action. The remote apron is relatively new and primarily houses the flying school. The test squadron hangar is the southern one on the central area. Immediately south of the 'real' airfield is the coast guard base. Its helicopters use the official runways but hover-taxi to and from their apron, crossing overhead the public road.


This base was build in 1922 and after the war the US forces took it over. Now the base is much smaller and its surrounded with parks and government buildings.

On the base there are only helicopters, like OH-6D, UH-1H/J and UH-60JA. Also on the base are helicopters from several government institutions.

Text en photo's by François van Riel