F-14 Tomcat

Former Japanese F-15J Pilot remembers that time US Navy F-14As scored simulated kills against JASDF Eagles with AIM-54 Phoenix missiles from 130 miles instead of dogfighting

Hirosaki Takagi, a former F-15J pilot, explains that the episode took place after a previous DACT session during which JASDF F-15s won easy against US Navy F-14s.

Four F-15Js from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 304 Squadron were in a dissimilar air combat training (DACT) with US Navy F-14As many years ago and they lost the fight as the Tomcats choose to employ their AIM-54 Phoenix missiles instead of entering into dogfights with the Japanese pilots, Hirosaki Takagi, a former F-15J pilot, recalls in an article appeared on Japanese website News.Nifty.com and briefly translated by Alert 5.com.

The piece, which was written to commemorate the arrival of the F-15J in Japan 40 years ago, features several interviews to early generation Eagle pilots who transitioned to the F-15 and trained future pilots.

Takagi explains that the episode took place after a previous DACT session during which JASDF F-15s won easy against US Navy F-14s.

According to Takagi, during the previous engagement against US Navy Tomcats, 304 Squadron’s Eagles emerged as winners scoring multiple kills against American F-14s: “No matter how many times we did it, we always won,’ Takagi said. The more maneuverable F-15 in fact had an edge over the F-14 in Within Visual Range (WVR) engagements.

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But during the second engagement of the day, while he was leading the four ship formation of F-15s to another dogfight against US Navy F-14s, Takagi was contacted by a ground control officer in charge to follow the drill that informed him that all the Eagles had been shot down.

Takagi was surprised: he never visually confirmed the F-14s and the lock-on warning system never rang in his cockpit. The Tomcats had chosen to use their AIM-54 Phoenix missiles and, according to Takagi, fired them from a distance of 130 miles (210 Km) ending the engagement before merging with Japanese F-15s.

Besides confirming that the F-15 was more maneuverable than the F-14 during dogfights, the story told by Takagi also highlights that the AIM-54 was more than capable to shoot down fighter-sized targets (and not only bomber aircraft as many still believe).

The AIM-54 Phoenix missile in fact was an airborne weapons control system with multiple-target handling capabilities, used to kill multiple air targets with conventional warheads. Near simultaneous launch was possible against up to six targets in all weather and heavy jamming environments. The improved Phoenix, the AIM-54C, could better counter projected threats from tactical aircraft and cruise missiles.

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Photo credit: U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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