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The Fleet Air Force (航空集団, koukuushuudan) is the naval aviation branch of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). It is headquartered in Naval Air Facility Atsugi[1] and is responsible for both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.[2][3] As of 2012, it was equipped with over 200 fixed-wing aircraft and 150 helicopters. These aircraft operate from bases throughout Japan, as well as from the JMSDF's ships.[4]:66

Fleet Air Force
Active1 September 1961
Country Japan
Branch Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
TypeNaval aviation
Garrison/HQNaval Air Facility Atsugi
RoundelRoundel of Japan.svg Roundel of Japan – Low Visibility.svg
Three JMSDF P-3C Orions flying in formation during 2011


The JMSDF's first aircraft were 16 Lockheed P2V Neptune maritime patrol aircraft, which were provided to the force by the United States Navy in 1956. The US Navy also provided Japan with 60 Grumman S-2 Trackers from 1957.[5]{{rp|5)) During the 1980s, the JMSDFs force of 82 Neptunes (most of which were the locally built Kawasaki P-2J variant) was replaced by about 100 Lockheed P-3 Orions.[5]{{rp|10)) The JMSDF's first combat helicopters were the Mitsubishi HSS-2 (the Japanese variant of the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King).[5]{{rp|13)) These helicopters were replaced by SH-60Js during the 1990s.[5]{{rp|14))

The JMSDF is the only force to operate minesweeping helicopters other than the US Navy. The first helicopters used for this purpose were eight V-107As.[5]{{rp|11)) These helicopters were replaced by eleven MH-53Es during the 1990s. Seven MCH-101 helicopters have been ordered to replace the MH-53Es, of which five had been delivered by mid-2012.[4]:70


The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force aviation maintains a large naval air force, including 201 fixed-wing aircraft and 145 helicopters. Most of these aircraft are used in anti-submarine warfare operations.

Aircraft Role Versions Quantity[6] Note
Fixed-wing aircraft
F-35 Lightning II Multi-Role F-35B 40 On Order
Lockheed P-3 Orion Maritime patrol
Optical reconnaissance
Equipment test
Electronic warfare trainer
Kawasaki P-1 Maritime patrol P-1 12 Planned to replace the Lockheed P-3C Orion. 80 more on order.
KC-130 Hercules Utility transport C-130R 6 Re entered into service since 2013.[7]
Learjet 35 Utility aircraft U-36A 4
Beechcraft King Air Utility aircraft/Liaison
Trainer aircraft
Fuji T-5 Trainer aircraft T-5 36
ShinMaywa US-1 Search and rescue US-1A 1
ShinMaywa US-2 Search and rescue US-2 5 Replacing the older US-1A.
Mitsubishi SH-60 Maritime helicopter UH-60J
Search and rescue.
Anti-submarine warfare.
Anti-submarine warfare.
AgustaWestland AW101 Minesweeping helicopter
Utility helicopter

For icebreaker Shirase.
Eurocopter EC 135 Trainer helicopter TH-135 15

Current organizationEdit

The organization of the JMSDF's aviation units is based on that of the US Navy. The main organizational units are Koku Shudan (air groups), Kokugun (air wings), Kōkūtai (air squadrons) and Hikōtai (flights).[4]:66

As at mid-2012, the structure of the JMSDF's aviation units was as follows:[4]:69

A F-35B prepares for a vertical landing on USS America
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Lockheed UP-3C Orion #9151
Kawasaki P-1
A JMSDF SH-60J Seahawk helicopter from JDS Haruna lands on board USS Russell in 2007.
Japanese MCH-101
ShinMaywa US-2

Fleet Air Force (Atsugi Air Base)

  • Fleet Air Wing 1 (Kanoya Air Field)
    • Air Patrol Squadron 1 (P-3C Orion)
    • Maintenance and Supply Squadron 1
    • Air Station Squadron Kanoya
  • Fleet Air Wing 2 (Hachinohe Air Base)
    • Air Patrol Squadron 2 (P-3C Orion)
    • Maintenance and Supply Squadron 2
    • Air Station Squadron Hachinohe
  • Fleet Air Wing 4 (Atsugi Air Base)[8]
  • Fleet Air Wing 5 (Naha Air Base)
    • Air Patrol Squadron 5 (P-3C Orion)
    • Maintenance and Supply Squadron 5
    • Air Station Squadron Naha
  • Fleet Air Wing 21 (Tateyama Air Base)
    • Air ASW Helicopter Squadron 21 (JMSDF Tateyama Air Base SH-60J/K)
    • Air ASW Helicopter Squadron 23 (JMSDF Maizuru Helipoat SH-60J/K)
    • Air ASW Helicopter Squadron 25 (JMSDF Ōminato Base SH-60J/K)
    • Helicopter Rescue Squadron 73 (Tateyama Air Base UH-60J)
      • Helicopter Rescue Detachment Ominato
      • Helicopter Rescue Detachment Iwoto
    • Maintenance and Supply Squadron 21
    • Air Station Squadron Tateyama
  • Fleet Air Wing 22 (Omura Air Base)
    • Air ASW Helicopter Squadron 22 (Omura Air Base SH-60J/K)
    • Air ASW Helicopter Squadron 24 (Komatsushima Air Base SH-60J/K)
    • Air Rescue Helicopter Squadron 72 (Omura Air Base UH-60J)
      • Helicopter Rescue Detachment Kanoya
      • Helicopter Rescue Detachment Tokushima
    • Maintenance and Supply Squadron 22
    • Air Station Squadron Omura
  • Fleet Air Force 31 (Iwakuni Air Base)
    • Air Rescue Squadron 71 (Atsugi Air Base US-1A, US-2)
    • Air Reconnaissance Squadron 81 (Iwakuni Air Base EP-3, OP-3C)
    • Air Training Support Squadron 91 (Iwakuni Air Base UP-3D, U-36A)
    • Maintenance and Supply Squadron 31
    • Drone Maintenance Squadron
    • Air Station Squadron Iwakuni
  • Air Development Squadron 51 (Atsugi Air Base)
  • Air Transport Squadron 61 (Atsugi Air Base C-130R, LC-90)
  • Mine Countermeasures Helicopter Squadron 111 (Iwakuni Air Base MCH-101)
  • Air Repair Squadron 1 (Kanoya Air Field)
  • Air Repair Squadron 2 (Hachinohe Air Base)
  • Air Control Service Group (Atsugi Air Base)
  • Mobile Construction Group (Hachinohe Air Base)
JMSDF District Forces

Units attached to Naval District destroyer fleets

  • Kure District Fleet
    • Komatsushima Air Squadron (SH-60J, Komatsushima Heliport)
  • Ōminato District Fleet
  • Sasebo District Fleet
  • Yokosuka District Fleet

Air Training Command

  • Shimofusa Air Training Group (Shimofusa Air Base)
    • 203 Air Training Squadron (P-3C)
    • 205 Air Training Squadron (no aircraft)
  • Tokushima Air Training Group (Tokushima Airport)
    • 202 Air Training Squadron (Beechcraft TC-90 King Air, Beechcraft UC-90 King Air)
  • Ozuki Air Training Group (Ozuki Air Field)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ JMSDF: What is the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force? Retrieved February 10, 2017
  2. ^ 航空集団 Retrieved February 10, 2017 (in Japanese)
  3. ^ Thompson, Paul JMSDF - Order of Battle January 2017 Retrieved February 10, 2017
  4. ^ a b c d Gunner, Jerry (July 2012). "Western Pacific Guardians". Air Forces Monthly. No. 292. pp. 66–71.
  5. ^ a b c d e Koda, Yoji (2012). Perspectives on the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. Canberra: Sea Power Centre - Australia. ISBN 9780642297648.
  6. ^ "Flightglobal - World Air Forces 2015" (PDF).
  7. ^ "Sale Gives New Life to Excess C-130s". 7 March 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2015.
  8. ^ 厚木航空基地 Retrieved February 8 , 2017 (in Japanese)