Japan seeks F-15J 'Super Interceptor' upgrade

The US State Department has approved a possible Foreign Military Sale to Japan for the modernisation and upgrade of up to 98 Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle air superiority fighters, under an effort that will produce Japanese Super Interceptors (JSI).

Approval of the potential sale, worth $4.5 billion, was announced on October 29 in a media release from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). Following this announcement, the DSCA notified the US Congress, which will ultimately decide if it goes ahead.

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Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle 12-8925, operated by the JASDF's 303 Hikotai, takes off from Eielson AFB during Red Flag-Alaska 15-3. USAF/Staff Sgt. Joshua Turner

The DSCA states that this package would upgrade up to 98 of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's (JASDF's) F-15Js to a Japanese Super Interceptor configuration. The Japanese government has requested 116 Boeing Advanced Display Core Processor II (ADCP II) mission system computers, 103 Raytheon APG-82(V)1 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars and 101 BAE Systems ALQ-239 Digital Electronic Warfare Systems (DEWS). Also included are training and technical support, system and munition integration, Selective Availability Anti-spoofing Modules (SAASM), Rockwell Collins AN/ARC-210 radios, Joint Mission Planning Systems (JMPS) and associated spares.

In the media release, the DSCA stated: "This proposed sale will provide Japan a critical air defence capability to assist in defending the Japanese homeland and US personnel stationed there. Modernised F-15J assets will better enable Japan to respond to airborne threats and defend its airspace. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces."

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A JASDF F-15J pilot from 201 Hikotai climbs into his aircraft, 12-8924, at Anderson AFB, Guam, during the annual Cope North exercise in 2013. USAF/Staff Sgt. Alex Montes

The DSCA also noted that Boeing will be the prime contractor through this potential Foreign Military Sale. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – the company which licence-built the F-15J for Japan – will be the prime contractor through the direct commercial sale, with Boeing being sub-contracted to support the integration process for both sides.

The JASDF has operated the Mitsubishi F-15 Eagle since 1981, with around 155 single-seat F-15J interceptor variants and roughly 45 F-15DJ twin-seat conversion trainer variants in service. The upgrade will cover roughly two thirds of the JASDF's F-15J fleet, with the F-15DJ not being earmarked for the upgrade. The air arm's Eagle force is spread over Japan, operating from air bases at Chitose, Gifu, Komatsu, Naha and Nyutabaru.