Special Report

Every Plane in Japan's Air Force

The Chinese military exercises that encircled Taiwan in August — a response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taipei — took place just 70 miles from Japanese territory.

During those four days of military grandstanding, China launched ballistic missiles, some of which fell into Japanese waters, a clear signal that any military confrontation over the fate of Taiwan would drag Japan into the conflict. China has claimed Taiwan as a province of the People’s Republic of China since Taiwan’s split from the mainland in 1949 amid civil war.

Despite having close trade ties, Japan and China have had chilly relations stemming from previous Japanese imperialism, including in the early half 20th century. In 2012, anti-Japanese sentiment flared in China over a territorial dispute that led to a monthslong boycott of Toyotas and Hondas, resulting in sales of Japanese cars plummeting in China.

In response to China’s recent saber-rattling, the U.S. and Japan deployed warplanes over the Sea of Japan in a show of force of their own. Japanese F-15 and F-2 jets joined with American F-22 and F-25 stealth fighters in the exercise. (These are the largest air forces in the world.)

With about 700 planes, Japan’s air force is much smaller than that of China, which has more than 2,300 aircraft in its air force arsenal. Japan’s air force fleet includes 200 Kawasaki T-4 trainer jets and 155 Boeing F-15 Eagle fighters. The oldest plane in Japan’s air force is the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, which had its first flight in 1958. Its newest addition is the Kawasaki C-2 transport plane that first took to the sky in 2010.

To find every airplane in Japan’s air force, 24/7 Wall St. used data from the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft as of May 2021 about the different types of aircraft in service in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. Aircraft are ordered by total planes in service. Information on first flights also comes from the WDMMA. Helicopters were excluded from this list, as were planes that are on order, according to the WDMMA, but not yet delivered. (See also, every airplane in the Chinese military.)

Here is every airplane in Japan’s air force.

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