Japanese Phantoms approaching sunset

Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Phantoms have been protecting the nation’s airspace and serving as a deterrent force from the early 1970s. Even as they count down to retirement, they are still flying to protect Japan alongside their successor, the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II, writes Midori Fukakusa

A trio of JASDF Phantoms of 301 Hikotai armed with AIM-9 Sidewinders. The five stars on the frog’s scarf signify assignment to 5 Kokudan (Wing) at Hyakuri, to where the squadron moved in 2016.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) was established in 1954. Its first fighter, from 1955, was the North American F-86F Sabre by the F-86D from 1958 and the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter from 1961.

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