What is it Like to be an F-15 Pilot?
-Interview with an ASDF Personnel at the Front Line-

Under a burning sunlight in the southern island, ASDF Captain Yoshida, a.k.a. “Kick-ass” as his call sign, was standing by his buddy. The F-15 pilot currently working with the ASDF 83rd Air Wing shares his story about what he sees in the air over Naha.

The 83rd Air Wing situated at the ASDF Naha air base, Okinawa Prefecture, provides air capability mainly composed of F-15 fighter jets to the Southwestern Composite Air Division. When any foreign aircraft suspected of intruding into Japan’s territorial airspace is detected, fighter jets scramble and take airspace anti-intrusion measures.

Q What made you decide to be a pilot at the SDF?

A.I always wanted to be a pilot since I was a little kid. I considered joining the commercial airlines, but I was fascinated by flights of Blue Impulse (ASDF aerobatic demonstration team). Once I learned that you could navigate a fighter jet at the SDF, I knew that was what I wanted to do.

Q What motivates you to do your job?

A.I take pride in working in the Southwestern area, the front-line. I feel a sense of achievement through my work, because I think we are playing an indispensable role in protecting peace and security of Japan. My job comes with a heavy responsibility because this is an actual mission where you cannot make any mistake.

Q What is your mentality during the scramble?

A.We are always maintaining readiness and adaptability since we do not know what kind of behavior the unidentified aircraft would take or what their intention is.

Q What do you think makes a good pilot?

A.I think the honesty is one of the significant qualities. We work in close cooperation with fellow pilots, so maintaining good communication and mutual trust is a key.

Status of Scrambles through the First Quarter of FY2014

The ASDF scrambled 340 times during the first quarter of FY2014. It marked a major increase of 225 times, a threefold rise compared to the same period of previous year. It was the largest number of scrambles through the quarter since the MOD started publicizing the quarterly number of scrambles in FY2005. Growing number of scrambles against Russian aircraft caused the major increase in whole number.

The breakdown by countries and regions was 70% against Russian aircraft, and 30% against Chinese aircraft, although countries and region include supposition.

Characteristics of Responses through the First Quarter of FY2014

The ASDF scrambled 235 times against Russian aircraft, a major increase of 204 times compared to the same period of previous year. The number was eight times larger compared to the last year. The MOD publicized 28 cases as a peculiar flight, including the long distance flights in the vicinity of Japan for seven consecutive days from April 13th to 19th.

The ASDF scrambled 104 times against Chinese aircraft, increase of 35 times compared to the same period of previous year.

There was no air intrusion during the first quarter of FY2014. Scrambles against Russian reconnaissance aircraft and Chinese fighter aircraft were outstanding in frequency compared to other types of aircraft of each country, although this includes estimation.

The period of this data is from April 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2014.

The 4th ADMM Plus HA/DR Experts’ Working Group Meeting

The 4th Meeting of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Experts’ Working Group (HA/DR EWG) under the framework of ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) and a related seminar were held in Tokyo on July 3rd and 4th. Japan serves as a co-chair for the HA/DR EWG with Laos starting from 2014. It was the first HA/DR EWG meeting that Japan co-chaired.

The meeting was attended by ASEAN and ADMM-Plus countries including Australia, China, India, Japan, ROK, New Zealand, Russia, and the U.S. as well as representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

During the seminar on the 3rd, they discussed lessons learned from disaster response to Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines last year. At the plenary meeting on the 4th, participants reached a decision on what HA/DR EWG would work on for the next three years.

Measures against Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden through the First Quarter

Following data shows the records of the measures against piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden April through June, 2014.

Aerial activities of P-3C patrol aircraft off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden

Record of Mission (April through June, 2014)

  1. Number of flights: 55 flights (Accumulated Total (AT): 1,140 flights)
  2. Flight hours: Approx. 430 hours (AT: Approx. 8,820 hours)
  3. Number of visually confirmed commercial ships: Approx. 4,800 ships (AT: Approx. 92,700 ships)
  4. Number of times of information sharing to Japanese destroyers, foreign warships, and/or commercial ships: Approx. 410 times (AT: Approx. 9,620 times)

Escort operations performed by MSDF units in the same area

Record of Mission (April through June, 2014)

  1. Number of escort operations: 28 times (The 510th - 537th escort operation under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Measures Law)
  2. Number of escorted vessels: 96 vessels (AT 3,371 of escorted vessels since the start of operations under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Measures Law)


Japanese-registered ships: 0 (AT: 15)

Foreign ships operated by Japanese shipping companies: 19 (AT: 619)

Foreign ships other than above: 77 (AT: 2,737)

*The above record does not include the 1st – 41st escort operation performed as Maritime Security Activities.

Zone Defense performed in the same area

Record of Mission (April through June, 2014)

  1. Number of days: 65 (AT: 140 days)
  2. Number of commercial vessels confirmed: Approx. 2,260 (AT: 5,270 vessels)