F-15J and F-15DJ for Japan

Last revised September 21, 2015


So far, the only nation to build the F-15 Eagle under license is Japan. Japan is, in fact, the largest F-15 customer outside the USA.

In June-July of 1975, Japanese officers carried out two flight evaluations of the F-15A/B Eagle at Edwards AFB as one of the 13 candidates for the replacement of the F-104J/DJ Starfighter and the F-4EJ Phantom II in JASDF service. In December of 1975, the Japanese National Defense Council announced that the Eagle had been selected to supplement and eventually replace the Lockheed F-104J Starfighters serving with the Nihon Koku Jietai (Japanese Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF). The Japanese Eagle was to be designated F-15J, with the two-seat version being F-15DJ. They were to be the Japanese counterparts of the F-15A and B respectively.

A license was acquired for manufacture of the F-15 in Japan, with Mitsubishi being selected as the prime contractor. Initial plans were for the first two single seaters and 12 two-seaters to be built in St Louis by McDonnell under Project Peace Eagle. The remainder would be manufactured in Japan by Mitsubishi at its plant in Komaki. A similar sort of arrangement had been worked out for license manufacture in Japan of the Eagle's predecessor, the F-4 Phantom.

As it turned out, the Japanese F-15s were quite similar to the early production blocks of the USAF F-15C and D. However, Japanese Eagles were to differ from the Air Force Eagles primarily in omitting certain sensitive items of electronic countermeasures equipment, such as the ICS and EWWS sets. These were deemed to sensitive for export. In their place, provisions were made for the installation of a Japanese-built radar warning system. Among the indigenous equipment fitted to the JASDF F-15J and F-15DJ aircraft is the J/APR-4 Radar Warning Receiver (which replaced the AN/ALR-56 of the US version), the J/ALQ-8 Electronic Countermeasuere suite (which replaced the AN/ALQ-135 internal countermeasures system), the AN/ALE-45 chaff/flare dispenser, and the XJ/APQ-1 radar warning system. Nuclear delivery equipment was omitted, data links were installed and MER-200P bomb racks were provided. The F-15J is characterized by an indigenous data link, but they do not support Link 16 FDL mounted by USAF F-15Cs. It works as a basic bidirectional link with the Japanese ground-controlled intercept network, and it is limited because it is not a true network.

The first two F-15Js were built by McDonnell (USAF serials 79-0280/0281, JASDF serials 02-8801/8802. 02-8801 flew for the first time on June 4, 1980. The next eight (JASDF serials 12-8803, 22-8804/22-8810) were assembled by Mitsubishi from McDonnell-built knock-down kits. The first Japanese-assembled F-15J (12-8803) flew at the Mitsubishi plant at Komaki on August 26, 1981.

Twelve of the two seat F-15DJs were built by McDonnell Douglas, with the remainder (from FY 1988 onward) being built by Mitsubishi.

The service evaluation was carried out by the Koku Jikkendan (Air Proving Wing) at Gifu AB on Honshu, the first planes being delivered in March of 1981. The first front-line JASDF Eagle squadron was 202 Hikotai (Squadron) of 5 Kokudan (Air Wing), based at Nyutabaru on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu. It received its first Eagles in 1981-82, replacing the unit's F-104J Starfighters. 202 Hikotai acted as the OCU for the remainder of the squadrons that were to receive the Eagle. In 1986/87, Eagles began to replace the F-4EJ in JASDF service, the first unit to convert being 303 Hikotai at Komatsu.

The following JASDF units have received the F-15J and F-15DJ:


In addition, 6 F-15DJs were assigned to the Hiko Kyodotai, an aggressor squadron based at Nyutabaru. Problems with the Mitsubishi T-2's low power and excessively-high accident rate led to a decision to adopt the F-15DJ for the agressor squadron.

JASDF Eagles were initially powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100 turbofans. From 1991, these have gradually been replaced by F100-PW-220s, which are more reliable but slightly lower-rated.

The last F-15 for the JASDF was delivered by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on December 10, 1999. This aircraft was a F-15DEJ two -seater. In total, the JASDF received 213 F-15s, with 163 F-15Js and 36 F-15DJs having been built by Mitsubishi and two F-15Js and 14 F-15DJs being built by McDonnell Douglas. Eight JASDF Eagles have been lost in accidents.

In 1997, the JASDF began a program to upgrade its F-15J fleet. This included a radar and central computer upgrade to bring JASDF F-15s up to the standards of MSIP-II USAF F-15s. Also included is an uppgrade of the J/ALW-8, plus new FLIR and IRST systems. It was hoped that the upgraded F-15Js will have the ability to carry and launch "fire and forget" BVR AAMs. The first upgraded F-15J (#928) flew for the first time on July 28, 2003. F-15Js which have been upgraded are unofficially known as F-15J Kai.

On 10 December 2004, the Japanese Government approved a Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP) to modernize the F-15J MSIPs over five years. The upgrade is being implemented in phases, but ultimately the upgrade will include a new ejection seat; replaced IHI-220E engines; more powerful processor; uprated electrical generation and cooling capabilities to support more avionics and the Raytheon AN/APG-63(V)1 radar which has been produced under license by Mitsubishi Electric since 1997. Raytheon expects the radar will ultimately be installed in 80 F-15Js. The new radar will support the AAM-4 missile, the Japanese answer to the AMRAAM.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) requested the modernization and deployment of reconnaissance aircraft in June 2007, and it was planned to upgrade some F-15Js with synthetic aperture radar pods; these aircraft would replace the RF-4 Phantom IIs currently in service. On 17 December 2009, the reconnaissance upgrade disappeared from the budget and priority was given instead to improvement of the F-15J and the Mitsubishi F-2. The number of F-15J upgrades was increased from 26 to 48, and the MoD purchased the part of the modernization for 38 fighters. 48 F-15Js will get a Link 16 datalink and helmet-mounted sight. The helmet-mounted sight will support the AAM-5 dogfighting missile, which will replace the AAM-3. On Dec 17, 2010 modernization was funded for 15 F-15J, buit this was later reduced to only 10. Japan is currently investigating an advanced fighter that will replace the F-15

The JASDF has a complicated six-digit serial system. The first digit corresponds to the last digit in the procurement year (0 = 1980, 1 = 1981, etc), the second the basic class of aircraft (2 = multi-engined), the third the basic role (8 = all-weather fighter), and the last three digits the individual aircraft number in sequence.

JASDF serials of F-15J

02-8801/8802		McDonnell Douglas F-15J-24-MC Eagle
				Built by McDonnell Douglas as 79-0280/0281
12-8803			McDonnell Douglas F-15J-24-MC Eagle
				Built by McDonnell Douglas but assembled
					by Mitsubishi
22-8804/8806		McDonnell Douglas F-15J-24-MC Eagle
				Built by McDonnell Douglas but assembled
					by Mitsubishi
22-8807/8810		McDonnell Douglas F-15J-25-MC Eagle
				Built by McDonnell Douglas but assembled
					by Mitsubishi
22-8811/8815		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
32-8816/8827		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
42-8828/8844		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
52-8845/8863		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
62-8864/8878		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
72-8879/8895		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
82-8896/8905		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
82-8896/8905		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
92-8906/8913		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
02-8914/8922		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
12-8923/8928		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
22-8929/8940		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
32-8941/8943		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
42-8944/8950		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
52-8951/8957		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi			
62-8958/8959		McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi			
72-8960			McDonnell Douglas F-15J Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi		
plus others

JASDF serials of F-15DJ:

12-8051/8054		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ-26-MC Eagle 
				built by McDonnell Douglas as 79-0282/0285
22-8055/8056		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ-29-MC Eagle 
				built by McDonnell Douglas as 79-0286/0287
32-8057/8058 		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ-32-MC Eagle 
				Built by McDonnell Douglas as 81-0068/0069
32-8059/8060 		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ-33-MC Eagle 
				Built by McDonnell Douglas as 81-0070/0071
52-8061/8062		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ-36-MC Eagle 
				Built by McDonnell Douglas as 83-0052/0053
82-8063/8066		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
92-8067/8070		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
02-8071/8073		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
02-8071/8073		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
12-8074/8079		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
32-8080/8087		McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
52-8088			McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi
62-8089			McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi			
72-8090			McDonnell Douglas F-15DJ Eagle
				Built by Mitsubishi	
plus others

Anyone have any later JASDF serial number information?

Sources:


  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920, Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  2. Combat Aircraft F-15, Michael J. Gething and Paul Crickmore, Crescent Books, 1992.

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

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

  5. F-15 Eagle, Robert F. Dorr, World Airpower Journal, Volume 9, Summer 1992.

  6. Japanese Self Defense Force Air Arms, Riccardo Niccoli, Air International, Vol 50 No. 1, 1996.

  7. Air Power Analysis: Japan, World Air Power Journal, Vol 35, Winter 1998.

  8. Boeing/McDonell Douglas F-15 Eagle Variant Briefing, John D. Gresham, World Air Power Journal, Vol 33, Summer 1998.

  9. F-15 Eagle On View, Air Forces Monthly, May 1999.

  10. Mitsubishi F-15J, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_F-15J