F-4EJ 301 is the first Phantom imported from the US in 1971 and thanks to JASDF meticulous maintenance it looks brand new.
The cool J79-noise-only video in this post features F-4EJ Phantom 301, currently attached to Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Air Development and Test Wing (the sole unit of the service specialized in equipment pre-operational testing and) at Gifu Air Base.
Aircraft 301 is the first Phantom imported from the US in 1971 and thanks to JASDF meticulous maintenance it looks brand new.
Noteworthy a dust collection pod is carried on the left-wing pylon of the aircraft.
JASDF purchased a total of 140 F-4EJ (basically a simplified F-4E exported to and license-built in Japan) Phantoms. Mitsubishi built 138 under license in Japan and 14 unarmed reconnaissance RF-4Es were imported (one of the aircraft (17-8440) was the very last of the 5,195 F-4 Phantoms to be produced. It was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on May 21, 1981).
Of these, 96 F-4EJs were modified to the F-4EJ Kai (modified) standard. 15 F-4EJ and F-4EJ Kai were converted to reconnaissance aircraft designated RF-4EJ. Japan had a fleet of 90 F-4s in service in 2007. After studying several replacement fighters, the F-35 Lightning II was chosen in 2011. Delays with the F-35 program have meant that some F-4s have remained in service. However the 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron became the first JASDF F-35 Squadron at Misawa Air Base when it converted from F-4EJ Kai on Mar. 29, 2019. The remaining two squadrons, the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron and 501st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (both based at Hyakuri Air Base in Ibaraki prefecture north of Tokyo), are schedule to retire their F-4s in 2020. As we have explained above some F-4s are also operated by the Air Development and Test Wing in Gifu Prefecture.
Video Credit: 1-300B