As part of preparations being made for welcoming a detachment of Italian F-35A Lightning IIs to Komatsu Air Base (AB) in Ishikawa, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) painted on of its F-15J Eagles in special markings to commemorate the centenary of the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force; ItAF).
Komatsu AB is home to the JASDF’s 6 Kokudan (Wing), which is responsible for three F-15J Eagle units: 303 and 306 Hikotai (Squadron) and the Hiko Kyodogun (Aggressor Group). The JASDF officially rolled out F-15J (72-8963/’963’) sporting its new special Italian-themed livery on August 3 “in order to convey 6 Kokudan’s enthusiasm for the Japan-Italy joint exercise to the Italian Air Force and everyone!”
As part of the newly applied livery, the port side of the F-15J was painted in the red, white and green tricolours of the Italian national flag, which extended to the topside of the wing. The left tailfin was painted with the official ItAF Centennial logo, while the left underwing tank had received the motto: “Cento Anni Dell Aeronautica Militare In Volo Verso Il Futuro (100 Years of the Italian Air Force Flying Towards the Future)”. The F-15J’s starboard side had a similar scheme in red and white, with the Eagle’s head insignia of 306 Hikotai emblazoned on the tailfin and the words “Welcome to Komatsu Air Base” printed on the starboard underwing fuel tank.
From August 3-10, Komatsu AB hosted a joint exercise between the JASDF and ItAF; the aim of which was to fly joint missions to improve skills and promote mutual understanding and interoperability between the two air arms. The ItAF contingent comprised four F-35A Lightning IIs from 32° Stormo’s (Wing’s) 13° Gruppo (Squadron) at Amendola AB, which were supported by three KC-767As, one C-130J Super Hercules and an E-550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) aircraft. These aircraft were initially due to arrive at Komatsu on August 2 – after making a stopover at Paya Lebar AB in Singapore – but this was delayed by 24 hours due to Typhoon Khanun. The JASDF participated in the exercise with four F-15Js from 306 Hikotai, one KC-767J and a Kawasaki C-2.