Up Close And Personal With The One And Only Kawasaki EC-1 Electronic Warfare Aircraft

The only Kawasaki EC-1 at Iruma AB, Japan. (Image credit: Misael Ocasio Hernandez)

Japan Air Self-Defense Force EC-1 Electronic Warfare operations at Iruma Air Base.

The Kawasaki C-1 is a twin-engine military transport aircraft developed and manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

Developed beginning in 1966 with production started in 1971, the Kawasaki C-1, between 1971 and 1981, the JASDF was delivered 31 C-1s that served with three squadrons: the 401 Hikotai at Komaki, 402 Hikotai at Iruma and 403 Hikotai at Miho.

Since the successor C-2 has started mass production, the number of C-1s has been reduced as the JASDF prepares to withdraw the type from active service. At the moment the type is in service with the 402nd Tactical Airlift Squadron of the 1st Airborne Brigade Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) at Iruma Air Base, located in the city of Iruma, in Saitama Prefecture, approximately 35 miles (55km) northwest of Tokyo. The same base hosts also the one and only Kawasaki EC-1: an electronic warfare (EW) version of the C-1, equipped with electronic countermeasures (ECM) and other systems to detect and jam enemy radar and communications signals.

The aircraft, serial number 78-1021, is the 21st production C-1 modified to meet a 1983 Defense Agency contract. It made the first flight in the new configuration in December 1984 and was handed over to the JASDF for evaluation in January 1985. In June 1986, the EC-1 entered service with the Electronic Warfare Training Unit. It is equipped with the domestic XJ/ALQ-5 ECM and Toshiba ELINT systems (along with American ECM and Elint avionics) and features a peculiar black bulbous nose, tail radome, as well as several bulges along the fuselage that house the various sensors.

The secretive aircraft, in service with the Electronic Warfare Support Unit at Iruma AB, was recently spotted operating from its homebase at Iruma AB, by our friend Misael Ocasio Hernandez. The video below provides an interesting close up view at the ultra-rare aircraft.

Along with the JASDF’s YS-11EB ELINT aircraft, the EC-1 will be replaced by the Kawasaki C-2 Electronic Intelligence variant (also dubbed “RC-2”), a heavily modified baseline C-2 tactical transport aircraft with a redesigned nose section and large fairings top of the tail, fuselage and sides of it, as well as several antennas underneath the fuselage.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.