Japanese Air Force One

Main Specifications
Crew 17~19 persons
Width 64.9m
Length 70.7m
Height 19.06m
Transportation Capacity About 150 passengers

Q1 Tell us about Japanese Air Force One.

A1.These are aircraft owned by the Ministry of Defense (MOD) for use in the transport of VIPs such as the Emperor and the Imperial Family as well as the Prime Minister when visiting overseas. They are also used for the transport of Japanese nationals in cases of emergency and as a means of transportation in international peace cooperation activities.

The MOD currently owns two of them. These aircraft are a variant of the Boeing 747, which is installed with winglets (i.e., small extensions) on the tips of the main wings, which contributes to a great improvement in aerodynamic performance.

When transporting VIPs such as VIPs, thorough measures are taken to prevent negative effects on diplomatic schedules due to contingencies such as the malfunction of the aircraft. Such measures include another Air Force One traveling together as a backup and Self-Defense personnel in charge of maintenance accompanying the trip. The plane interior is designed based on special specifications consisting of areas such as an office/work area and conference room, enabling a group of reporters to travel together and hold a press conference in the plane. Concerning the transport of Japanese nationals, when an incident occurred in Algeria in January of this year in which Japanese nationals were taken as hostages, one of the government aircraft traveled between Algeria and Japan in order to transport those who were affected by the incident back home.

Q2 Could you provide details on the circumstances concerning the introduction of the Japanese Air Force One?

A2.In light of Japan’s role in the international community, and in order to contribute to the further advancement of internationalization, the Japanese Government, following the example of other countries, decided to introduce two Boeing 747-400 as government aircraft in 1987, mainly as means for transporting the Prime Minister. In February 1991, the preparatory office was established in the Prime Minister’s Office (currently the Cabinet Office), and the first and the second aircraft were received from the Boeing in September and November of the same year, respectively.

Q3 Why are the Self-Defense Forces operating the aircraft?

A3.After the acquisition of the aircrafts by the Prime Minister’s Office (present Cabinet Office) in 1991, the government aircraft review committee decided to shift the planes’ ownership to the Defense Agency (present MOD) from April 1, 1992. Since then, the MOD is maintaining and managing these aircrafts.

When the ownership was shifted, a provisional Special Airlift Group was formed at Chitose Air Base and completed servicing for basic operational preparation after spending about one year conducting operational tests. Then in June 1993, the Special Airlift Group was formed and has been operating the aircrafts as its duty.

Q4 Could you provide details on the Special Airlift Group?

A4.The Special Airlift Group belongs to the Air Support Command in the Air Self-Defense Force, and consists of three organizations: the headquarters, 701st Squadron and maintenance unit. Its duties include the transport of national guests and others by government aircraft, and the provision of education to train airlift staff (equivalent to cabin crew of commercial airlines).

In addition, the Special Airlift Group takes part, as necessary, in international peace cooperation activities, the transport of Japanese nationals and others in cases of emergency and international disaster relief operations. In order to prepare for such unpredictable missions caused by sudden changes in domestic as well as overseas situations, all crew members of the government aircraft including pilots consist of Air Self-Defense Force personnel.

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