Blue Impulse

Blue Impulse
Blue Impulse

Blue Impulse is an expert team that specializes in giving gorgeous acrobatic demonstrations at ASDF airshows and major civilian events, aimed at publicizing the ASDF.

“The 11th squadron” is the official name of the team, which belongs to the 4th Air Wing on Matsushima Air Base, Miyagi Prefecture.

The six planes, colored blue and white, present breathtaking surprises to those watching them for the first time. Their sensational performances unfurl one after the other, with neat formations in the sky and dynamic solo stunts. The audience, on the ground, is immersed in an atmosphere of great excitement and surrounded by shouts of joy. So beautiful, grand, splendorous and precise were the flights that they have received great acclaim from within and outside Japan.

First generation Blue Impulse: F-86

Opening ceremony of the 18th Olympic Games(Tokyo)
Opening ceremony of the 18th Olympic Games(Tokyo)

The F-86F supplied by the United States was the first generation aircraft, and the primary fighter aircraft in use at the time. The Blue Impulse F-86F was first established as an airmobile training class in August 1960, as part of the 2nd Squadron of the 1st Air Wing in Hamamatsu Air Base. It was well known for drawing the five-circle Olympic logo in the air in the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the words “EXPO ‘70” in the opening ceremony of the Osaka World Exposition. A total of 545 public demonstration flights were conducted over a period of 21 years.

Second generation Blue Impulse: T-2

The second generation Blue Impulse which utilized domestically manufactured T-2 supersonic advanced training aircraft was launched in January 1982 as a “Technical Research Section” within the 21st Squadron of the 4th Air Wing on Matsushima Air Base. Compared to the F-86F, the T2 is an aircraft that places a greater emphasis on high-speed performance. It has intrigued fans with its powerful performances that harness its long approach run capability. In particular, the single-machine, maximum turning capability by aircraft No. 5 has won over many fans with its dynamic sound and movement.

The team has also competed with the U.S. acrobatic team “Thunderbirds” at the Misawa Air Base Air Show. A total of 175 public demonstration flights were conducted over a period of 14 years.

Third generation Blue Impulse: T-4

T-4 was adopted as a successor aircraft to the second generation T-2. In 1995, the T-4 Blue Impulse Team was established as part of the 11th Squadron in the 4th Air Wing on Matsushima Air Base. Thereafter, it has continued to give demonstration flights all around Japan till the present day. The team made demonstration flights above the FIFA World Cup venue during the World Cup jointly hosted by Japan and Korea, as well as during the Nagano Winter Olympics. In 1997, the team toured the United States for the first time, and performed sensational acrobatic acts at the Nellis Air Force Base in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.

Opening ceremony of the 18th Winter Olympics (Nagano)
Opening ceremony of the 18th Winter Olympics (Nagano)
Opening ceremony of the 2002 FIFA World Cup
Opening ceremony of the 2002 FIFA World Cup

Acrobatic flights. Main performance items

Four planes form up in a diamond shape and take off. Even in the same diamond formation, there are several patterns for the interval settings for the formation, including the Delta Loop and the Line Abreast.

Five planes descend vertically and bloom in their own respective directions. This is a beautiful acrobatic flight that shows smoke trials spreading out in five different directions.

Two planes rise vertically in front and begin to generate smoke at the depressed section of a heart shape. They part in the left and right directions, and each plane draws out one half of the heart shape. A third plane then continues by drawing a smoke arrow from the bottom-left and passing through the center of the heart.

Five planes gradually enter a broad close order formation while drawing a loop.

Five planes ascend, and spread out in five different directions to draw a star shape. Even among the various types of acrobatic flights, this performance is a highly popular one.

This is a thrilling acrobatic flight. Two planes enter by inverted flight, and cross each other at a distance where they are about to collide.

Introduction of the aircraft
Main specifications of T-4
Crew 2 persons
Width Approx. 9.9 m
Length Approx. 13.0 m
Height Approx. 4.6 m
Number of engines mounted 2
Name of engine F3 – IHI – 30
Engine thrust Approx. 1,670kg / engine
Type of engine Turbofan engine
Maximum speed Approx. Mach 0.9

T-4 is a middle class training aircraft used as an auxiliary aircraft in basic operational training and combat air wings in the ASDF. The Blue Impulse uses specialized aircraft that is remodeled in six areas from this T-4 middle class training aircraft. Development of this specialized aircraft commenced in FY1991, and 8 units were manufactured in 1994, 1 unit in 1996, and 2 units in 2002 respectively, making a total of 11 units. The remodeled sections were: addition of cockpit equipment, strengthening of windshield, addition of low-altitude warning system, equipping with smoke generating equipment, changes in the external coating of the aircraft, and changes in the radar switching method.

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