Japan Evacuated Okinawa-based F-15s After 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake In Taiwan

F-15J evacuated
A dozen of F-15Js parked on one of the roads within the perimeter of Naha air base. The building in the background sits on the opposite side of the airbase. (Photo: JASDF)

Following a tsunami alert after the earthquake, Naha evacuated its F-15s in the airbase’s streets, higher than the local aprons.

The X account of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Naha air base, on the island of Okinawa, released some unusual photos of its F-15s parked on the public roads within the city. The aircraft were, in fact, evacuated from the apron following the tsunami warning in the aftermath of the earthquake which hit Taiwan on Apr. 3, 2024.

“In response to the tsunami warning on April 3rd, Naha Air Base scrambled to confirm the damage situation in the Sakishima area, and at the same time evacuated F-15 fighter jets and vehicles to higher elevations to protect their equipment,” said the statement from the base’s officials. We were able to geolocate the photos and, apparently, the aircraft were still within the perimeter of the airbase, although they were moved among the other facilities away from the apron

Such actions are not unprecedented, as they were already seen in the past to avoid aircraft losses such the ones caused by the 2011 tsunami which struck Japan. In that occasion a high number of military aircraft, mainly Mitsubishi F-2 jets, was heavily damaged and many were destroyed or not worth the repair. Many aircraft took years before repairs were complete.

Although only a dozen F-15s can be seen in the photos, Naha air base is home to two F-15J squadrons, a support flight which shares T-4 jet trainers with the two squadrons and an E-2C squadron. Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force are also present with their helicopters and aircraft, but it’s possible they were stored in the hangars.

An F-15J parked on a road, evacuated away from Naha air base. (Photo: JASDF)

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake, the biggest in 25 years for Taiwan, hit the coast off Hualien, on the eastern coast of the island, at 7.58AM LT on Apr. 3, 2024 killing nine people and injuring more than 900. Following the earthquake, a tsunami warning was issued in the area.

According to Reuters, at Hualien Air Force Base, home of the 5th Tactical Composite Wing of the ROCAF, equipped with F-16V and F-5 aircraft, six F-16 fighter jets were slightly damaged due to collisions. The Air Force Command stated that the affected aircraft suffered minor scratches and damage (due to the shaking and movement of the boarding ladder), which could be immediately repaired and won’t affect combat readiness.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.