Boeing partner with MHI on Japanese F-15J upgrades

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Boeing recently signed a direct commercial sale agreement to support upgrades to Japan’s F-15J multi-role fighter fleet.

This contract comes as part of the larger US$4.5bn modernisation programme, which was announced by the US government last October. As part of the agreement, MHI will serve as the prime contractor for the upgrade work and will be supported by the Sojitz Corporation.

Boeing will provide MHI with the ground support equipment, technical documents and retrofit drawings required for the upgrade of the first two F-15Js to the Japan Super Interceptor (F-15JSI) configuration.

F-15JSI [Boeing]
Concept art depicting the F-15JSI in flight. Boeing

The upgrades will introduce new active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, digital electronic warfare and weapon systems to the F-15J. It will also receive an advanced cockpit system and mission computer, which will provide greater situational awareness to Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) pilots.

Will Shaffer, president of Boeing Japan, said: “Through this agreement, Boeing is [honoured] to further our long-standing tradition of support for Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the [JASDF] and MHI.

“These upgrades will deliver critical capability for national and collective [self-defence], in which the F-15J plays a key role. At the same time, they will provide MHI and our partners in Japan’s aerospace [defence] industry with an opportunity to enhance their own extensive engineering capabilities,” he added.

F-15J [USAF/SSgt Miguel Lara]
An F-15J departs Eielson AFB, Alaska, during Red Flag-Alaska 12-2 on June 11, 2012. USAF/SSgt Miguel Lara

MHI produced the JASDF’s F-15J fleet domestically, under license from Boeing. AirForces Intelligence data states that a total of 165 single-seat F-15Js and 48 two-seat F-15DJs were delivered to the air arm between 1980 and 2000. As of July 27, 156 F-15Js and 45 F-15DJs remain in operational service.

Upgrade work is scheduled to begin in 2022, with 98 aircraft expected to undergo the process. In the meantime, MHI will develop a modification plan and prepare its workforce and facilities prior to accepting its first fighters.