Lockheed F-104J Starfighter

Last revised October 5, 2015






On November of 1960, the Japanese government announced that it would acquire the Starfighter as its standard air superiority fighter. An industrial cartel headed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was given the responsibility for the license manufacture of the Starfighter in Japan. The first few Japanese Starfighters would be assembled in Japan from Lockheed-supplied components, but ultimately the Starfighter would be built in Japan entirely from Japanese- manufactured components.

The Japanese Starfighter was given the designation F-104J, the J standing for Japan. It was similar in overall structure to the F-104G, but was equipped as an all-weather interceptor rather than as an air-to-ground strike aircraft. One of the reasons for the choice of this option was that treaty restrictions at the time prevented Japan from acquiring any aircraft which had even a hint of an offensive role.

The F-104J was powered by a Japanese-built J79-IHI-11A engine built under license by Ishikawajima-Harima. It had an Autonetics NASARR F-15J-31 fire control system optimized for the air-to-air mode, and was armed with a 20-mm M61A1 cannon and four AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, two mounted underwing and two carried on a rack on the fuselage centerline.

The first Lockheed-built F-104J (Model 683-07-14) flew on June 30, 1961. The first three F-104Js were built and assembled entirely by Lockheed. 29 more F-104Js were assembled by Mitsubishi from knocked-down kits provided by Lockheed between March of 1962 and March of 1965. Further F-104Js were built from scratch by Mitsubishi, with a total of 178 Mitsubishi-manufactured F-104Js being delivered from March of 1965 through 1967.

The F-104DJ (Model 583B-10-17) was the two-seat trainer version of the F-104J for Japan. The F-104DJ had electronics and other items that were compatible with those of the single-seat version. Twenty examples were built by Lockheed and reassembled in Japan between July of 1962 and January 1964. No F-104DJ two-seaters were built from scratch in Japan.

The F-104J entered service with the Koku Jietai (Japanese Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF) in October of 1966. The first JASDF units to convert to the F-104J were the 201st and 202nd Fighter Interceptor Squadrons (Hiko-tais) based at Chitose and Nyutabaru. The two hundred and ten F-104Js and the twenty F-104DJ operational trainers were used exclusively in the interceptor role by seven Hiko-tais (the 201st to 207th) of the Koku Jieitai.

Beginning in December of 1981, the Japanese Starfighters were replaced by Mitsubishi-built F-15J/F-15DJ Eagles. The last JASDF F-104J was retired by the 207th Hiko-tai in March of 1986. During JASDF service, at least 34 F-104Js and two F-104DJs (about 15 percent of the force) were written off in accidents.

As JASDF F-104Js were retired, some were transferred to Taiwan. By 1987, the RoCAF had received at least 22 F-104Js and five F-104DJs through the "ALISAN 9" project. Many of the Japanese F-104s were eventually converted to drones for aerial target practice.

Units of the JASDF flying F-104J


JASDF serial numbers:

16-5001/5009 	Lockheed-built F-104DJ Starfighter 
			 c/n 583B-5401/5409
			16-5006 to Taiwan as 4593
26-8501/8503 	Lockheed-built F-104J Starfighter 
			 c/n 683B-3001/3003
26-8504/8507 	Mitsubishi-built F-104J Starfighter 
			 c/n 683B-3004/3007
36-5010/5020 	Lockheed-built F-104DJ Starfighter 
			 c/n 583B-5410/5420
			36-5017 to Taiwan as 4595
36-8508/8563 	Mitsubishi-built F-104J Starfighter 
			 c/n 683B-3008/3063
			36-8508 to Taiwan as 4509
			36-8514 to Taiwan as 4521
			36-8531 to Taiwan as 4503
			36-8554 to Taiwan as 4504
			36-8555 to Taiwan as 4506
46-8564/8658 	Mitsubishi-built F-104J Starfighter 
			 c/n 683B-3064/3158
			46-8577 to Taiwan as 4510
			46-8582 to Taiwan as 4511
			46-8596 to Taiwan as 4522
			46-8611 to Taiwan as 4505.  Collided in midair with RoCAF F-104G 4319/62-12261 Dec 9, 1989.
				Pilot of 4505 ejected but pilot of 4319 was killed.
			46-8612 to Taiwan as 4501
			46-8616 to Taiwan as 4515
			46-8619 to Taiwan as 4516
56-8659/8680 	Mitsubishi-built F-104J Starfighter 
			 c/n 683B-3159/3180
76/8681/8710 	Mitsubishi-built F-104J Starfighter 
			 c/n 683B-3181/3210

Sources:


  1. The Lockheed F-104G/CF-104, Gerhard Joos, Aircraft in Profile No. 131, Doubleday, 1969.

  2. The World's Great Interceptor Aircraft, Gallery Books, 1989.

  3. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Steve Pace, Motorbooks International, 1992.

  4. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987.

  5. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  6. The World's Fighting Planes, William Green, Doubleday 1968.

  7. The Aircraft of the World, William Green and Gerald Pollinger, Doubleday, 1965.

  8. American Combat Planes, Ray Wagner, Third Enlarged Edition, Doubleday, 1982.

  9. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, John Fricker, Wings of Fame, Vol. 2, Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996.

  10. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter operators, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Lockheed_F-104_Starfighter_operators