Here’s a brand new special Phantom from JASDF.
Japan’s Air Force 302 Hikotai (Tactical Fighter Squadron) of the 7th Air Wing of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force based at Hyakuri Air Base in the Ibaraki Prefecture of Japan plans to move to Misawa in February next year. At that time, the squadron, that has already started retiring its Phantoms, will start operations with the F-35A Lightning II 5th generation aircraft.
Until then, 302 Hikotai will continue to operate with the F-4EJ “Kai” (“extra”) variant, a modernized version of the original F-4EJ that features among the other things, the AN/APG-66J pulse-Doppler radar, a Kaiser HUD (Head Up Display), an AN/APZ-79 IFF system, as well as the ability to carry an AN/ALQ-131 advanced multimode electronic countermeasures pod and to launch the AIM-7E/F Sparrow and the AIM-9L/P Sidewinder AAMs (air-to-air missiles).
But before moving to Misawa, the unit has prepared a new special painted Phantom (07-8428) that was unveiled to the public with a post on Twitter on Jul. 3. The aircraft sports a large red bird on a white background as well as the traditional bird badge of the 302 on the tail (that is a very stylised representation of the Hikotai number: head and body being the ‘3’, the white tail ‘0’ and the blue wings the ‘2’)
— 航空自衛隊百里基地 (@jasdf_hyakuri) July 3, 2018
On Dec. 2, 2018, Hyakuri Airbase will celebrate the end of the 302 Hikotai’s operations with the F-4 with an airshow.
Beginning next year, the JASDF will operate only two Phantom squadrons at Hyakuri: 301 Hikotai with F-4EJs and 501 Hikotai with a variety of RF-4E and RF4EJ used in the reconnaissance role. The last flight of a “Samurai” Phantom should be in March 2021.
Image credit: JASDF/302th TFS