The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) operated Cold War-era supersonic jets - namely the Lockheed F-104J/DJ "Starfighter" and McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ "Phantom II" models into the mid-1970s at which point the service was looking at a single solution to replace these two aging types. Its Defense Agency whittled a crowded field down to a few strong candidates of which the F-15C/D models seemed to fit the requirement best. This resulted in extensive dialogue between the United States and Japan to locally-produced the versions, under-license, for the JASDF - resulting in the "Peace Eagle".
Japanese J-model Eagles were introduced in 1981 and remain in active service today (2019). Total production from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) has reached 223 fighters.
Externally, the J-model Eagles share a near-perfect appearance with their American kin. The radar is housed in a hollowed-out nosecone assembly at the extreme front-end of the fuselage. Aft of this is the cockpit complete with excellent vision and a Zero-Zero ejection seat. The engines are arranged in side-by-side format within the middle-aft section of the fuselage, aspirated by rectangular intakes straddling each cockpit wall and exhausted through conventional circular ports at the rear of the aircraft. Twin vertical tail fins are used and the monoplane wing assemblies exhibit the same leading edge sweep of American F-15s. The horizontal tail surfaces are of an all-moving surface variety for excellent control. Ground-running is made possible by a retractable tricycle arrangement.
As fielded, the fighter has a running length of 63.81 feet with a wingspan of 42.81 feet and a height of 18.54 feet. Empty weight reaches 28,000lb while its MTOW exceeds 68,000lb.
While appearing as a direct copy of the F-15C/D models, the Japanese F-15J/DJ forms lack the ECM suites, RWR units, and nuclear-delivery capability of their American counterparts. Local solutions were eventually developed to fill the gaps covering the first two qualities while the nuclear capability was left out altogether in the finalized forms.
Power is from 2 x Pratt & Whitney F100-100 or F100-200 series air-breathing, afterburning turbofan engines developing 17,450lb of thrust (each) dry and up to 25,000lb of thrust (each) with reheat engaged. This results in stellar time-to-altitude performance, an excellent quality for an interceptor to have. Performance includes a maximum speed of 1,656 mph with an operating ceiling up to 65,600 feet. Rate-of-climb is 50,000 feet-per-minute, again, another great quality for an interception-minded military aircraft. The engines are manufactured, under local license, by IHI Corporation, to keep assembly as smooth as possible.
Armament is comprised of a single 20mm M61 "Vulcan" automatic internal cannon useful for close-in work against aerial targets and can also be brought to bear on ground targets as needed. Beyond this are no fewer than ten external hardpoints cleared for many Japanese and American air-to-air and air-to-surface weapons including the Mitsubishi AAM-3 (improved "Sidewinder"), AAM-4 (Beyond-Visual-Range missile), and AAM-5 (short-ranged) Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) as well as the American AIM-9 "Sidewinder" short-ranged and AIM-7 "Sparrow" medium-ranged AAMs.
Like American F-15s, the F-15J also has a potent, if somewhat limited, air-to-ground capability and can carry various conventional drop ordnance such as the ubiquitous Mk 82 General Purpose Bomb (GPB) and the CBU-87 Cluster munitions-release, area-denial weapon. Furthermore, the aircraft can be equipped with up to three large external fuel tanks to increase operational ranges and loitering times (at the expense of added weight and hardpoints normally reserved for missiles). The aircraft also accepts fuel, in-air, by way of aerial tankers such as the KC-135 platform.
Four distinct forms of the F-15 "Peace Eagle" ultimate emerged led by the initial single-seat F-15J models. J-models saw two units completed by McDonnell Douglas out of its St. Louis, Missouri plant while the remaining 139 were built, under-license, by MHI in Japan. Production of J-models spanned from 1981 until 1997. A first-flight of a J-model Eagle was recorded on June 4th, 1980.
These were followed by the twin-seat F-15DJ models used for advanced fighter training and carrying a second crewmember. Twelve of these were built by McDonnell Douglas at its St. Louis facility before the final 25 were handled by MHI in Japan. DJ-models were produced from 1981 until 1997.
The F-15J "Kai" variant was brought online as a modernized version of the original F-15J fighters. The latest initiative is the F-15J "Japanese Super Interceptor" which promises to extend the service lives of these aircraft into the next few decades thanks to updates in digital processing, the onboard radar fit, and Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) suite.
Japan is the sole operator of the J-model Eagle. It is in operational service with seven active fighter squadrons of the JASDF, a test wing, and a single training squadron as of 2019. J/DJ models were upgraded in the late-1980s to improve digital processing, engines, ECM, and weapons delivery/support.
The F-15s in JASDF service are a candidate to be replaced by a mode advanced, homegrown 5th Generation Fighter form (for air superiority purposes) still to be realized. The service has, however, begun taking delivery of Lockheed Martin F-35 "Lightning II" 5th Generation Strike Fighters to advance its airborne capabilities for the next decade. The F-15J is fielded alongside the still-existing stock of EF/RF-4EJ Phantom II and F-2A (F-16 "Fighting Falcon") multirole aircraft.
Total J-model strength to date (2019) reaches 155 fighters making the JASDF the largest F-15 Eagle operator outside of the United States.
January 2019 - The Japan Ministry of Defense is planning to upgrade some twenty of its Boeing F-15 Eagle fleet.
July 2019 - Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-15 Eagles are slated to be upgraded with the APG-82 series radar fit and BAe Systems DEWS Electronic Warfare (EW) suite bringing the possibility that the modernized version of the fighter will support the medium-ranged AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile as well as the locally-developed Mitsubishi Electric AAM-4B AAMs.
October 2019 - The American government has approved a plan for the upgrade of some 98 F-15J fighters serving the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The initiative is known as the "Japanese Super Interceptor" and will include upgrades to the Electronic CounterMeasures (ECM) suite, computer processing, and radar fit.
July 2020 - Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) will be upgrading some 98 F-15J in-service fighters with partner Boeing. Changes include broadened support for both air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles.
Status Active, In-Service
Production 223 Units
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) - Japan / McDonnell Douglas; Boeing - USA
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
- Advanced Training
63.81 ft (19.45 m)
42.81 ft (13.05 m)
18.54 ft (5.65 m)
27,999 lb (12,700 kg)
68,002 lb (30,845 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Mitsubishi F-15J production model)
2 x Pratt & Whitney F100-100 OR F100-200 afterburning turbofan engines developing 17,450lb of thrust (each) dry and 25,000lb of thrust (each) with reheat.
1,656 mph (2,665 kph; 1,439 kts)
65,617 feet (20,000 m; 12.43 miles)
50,000 ft/min (15,240 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Mitsubishi F-15J production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
OPTIONAL, ROLE DEPENDENT:
Support for various in-service Japanese and American Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) including AAM-3, AAM-4, AAM-5, AIM-9 "Sidewinder", and AIM-7 "Sparrow".
For ground support roles, provision for Mk 82 family of General Purpose Bombs (conventional drop bombs), the CBU-87 Cluster bomb and others.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Mitsubishi F-15J production model)
F-15J - Base Series Designation; single-seat model.
F-15J Kai - Modernized F-15J fighters; work beginning in late 1980s to improve performance and survivability.
F-15J "Japanese Super Interceptor" - Proposed modernization of the F-15J fighter series to cover 98 total aircraft; changes include new radar, modern processing, and updated survival suite.
F-15DJ - Twin-seat model used mainly for fighter training.
"Peace Eagle" - Unofficial Series Nickname.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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