The first operational Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-35A Lightning touched down at an arrival ceremony at Misawa Air Base in Japan this week.

In the upcoming Japanese fiscal year, nine more aircraft will join this one to incept the first fifth-generation fighter squadron as part of the JASDF’s 3rd Air Wing.

“The F-35A will bring transformation in air defense power and significantly contribute to the peace for citizens and ensure security,” said JASDF Maj. Gen. Kenichi Samejima, the 3rd AW commander in a press statement.

“All service members will do their best to secure flight safety and promptly establish an operational [squadron] structure step-by-step.”

According to the manufacturers, the aircraft is a high-performance, multirole aircraft with ‘advanced electronics designed to heighten situational awareness and distribute more information to pilots than any other fighter aircraft, giving operators a critical advantage over adversaries’.

Japan is one of 12 countries to purchase the F-35A.

“This aircraft represents not only a big step forward in technological advancements and combat capabilities but also in U.S.-Japan relations,” said Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander.

“We look forward to training alongside our JASDF counterparts and continuing to enhance the safety and security of Japan together.”

In total, JASDF plans to acquire 42 F-35As as successors to its F-4s. A commemorative ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 24 at Misawa AB to celebrate the official initial deployment of a JASDF F-35A.

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Amazing how the UK was the first to sign up for the F35 yet will be the last to actually have them in operational service.


That’s our country in a nutshell, puts the most in and gets shafted by everyone else.

Alan Reid

Hi Guys, About 14 UK F-35Bs are Stateside with the Operational Evaluation Unit.
We just haven’t stood-up a front-line squadron in the UK yet.
I suspect on the road-map to operational effectiveness with the Lightning II, we are well ahead of the Japanese.

andy reeves,

nice to hear, but, shouldn’t they be over here?

Daniele Mandelli

Where would you have them over here?

Their base is being upgraded, and still in 24 hour use by the GR4 force.

Why rush them here when they can get all the experience they need over there?

Ben P

Sign… It is the first F35 aircraft that is operational, that they have taken delivery of. They now have a grand total of 1 F35. Our 14 F35s have been conducting extensive tests and evaluations for several years in the United States along with their program. Our first squadron will be operational next year, the Japanese are years away from that.

Ben P

Also, other than the US, we have gained the most from the F35 program than any other nation. We have already recouped our original investment in the program and are set to make far more. It has provided thousands of jobs and pumped billions in to our economy. In addition to that we have a global repair hub for the F35 based in Wales, and we also make a percentage of the F35 itself, which for every plane sold benefits us. Please do some dam research, you are as bad as the comment section on the telegraph. Google is your… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I was just waiting for it….someone was going to moan they have and we don’t. YES WE DO!!! The UK is progressing with F35 at its pace of its choosing. What other countries do is for them. This is not some kind of race you know. Before mouthing off and complaining we have no planes, the QEC is sinking, blah blah blah. Facts: RAF Marham has had a small fortune spent on it. We are the only T1 partner. We are involved in every F35 made. We have the Avionics upgrade and repair facility. 617 Squadron arrive at Marham this… Read more »

andy reeves,

i wish it would be clarified just how many f 35b the navy are going to have and when, it will be utterly shameful if either q.e or prince of wales ever put to see with at least a 12 aircraft embarked.the u.k has 14 f 35b in america undergoing testing e.t.c why are they not here?

Daniele Mandelli

We are committed to at least 48. Further orders come later.

Why rush them here when testing can be done more efficiently in the US where the aircraft originates from?

The ground crews are learning about the aircraft, why bring them here when they can learn better over there?

617 returns to the UK this summer, once they are ready.

Then the UK will be able to train its own crews.


What’s the news on the RAFs F-35? I’ve not heard anything about it but someone said they’ll be buying the F-35B variant for the RAF as well to save money with the ability to exchange parts. Please someone tell me that isn’t true. The F-35B has less range and payload capacity than the F-35A, Please tell me some beurcrat hasn’t hamstrung our air force to save a few pennies.

Alex Lloyd

The F35B has been purchased for integration on to QEC. The MoD have not ruled out buying the F35A yet


In order to make a separate variant viable the RAF would have had to or dozens of a different variant. Likely somewhere between 30-50 otherwise their would never be enough spare parts or trained maintenance personnel not to mention flight crews. The “few” pennies in this case is something on the order of several billion £ which could instead be spent on modernization and acquisition of Typhoons. The RAF bought the F-35B on the same grounds as Harrier it CAN operate at sea but is also able to be used from primitive/bombed out airfields. For instance the USMC buys the… Read more »


The ability to fly from bombed out airfields is useful but less so when the enemy can outrange and outgun you. The F-35B sacrifices ability in every department in order to fit the various VTOL components. Yes the savings may be large but your essentially saying that it’s fine to sacrifice capability for money. Perhaps we should just scrap the type 26 and just buy a few type 31s instead. That would save us a lot of money too.

Ben P

Same news it has been for many years, F35B jointly for the RAF and RN. Literally do 5 seconds of googling.

Stuart M

Wasn’t the whole point of the ‘Joint’ Strike Fighter to give the three aircraft different tailored capabilities but maintain a high degree of parts and maintenance commonality? The F35B will lack the deep interdiction range and/or weapons load needed by the RAF. They’ll all be parked up nextcto a big vulnerable airfield just as the harriers were in any case, regardless their austere runway capabilities. Better to have smaller numbers of aircraft that can do the job than accept an unsuitable aircraft for the sake of penny-pinching. The F35B has no gun either and though modern missiles ideally render a… Read more »


Indeed Lewis, I heard they might be buying one or two F-35B’s as well

Daniele Mandelli

Let me reverse what you said Lewis.

And if we do not buy the F35B in sufficient numbers before F35A we hamstring the 2 carriers we have just spent billions on.

F35B takes priority.
Once enough F35B are in service to ensure surge at max numbers for one carrier should it be necessary then F35A can form a couple of squadrons.

andy reeves,

the u.s has over 300 f 16’s in storage in arizona at the amarc facility, google its inventory, and its clear where the u.k/r.a.f should be procuring its air assets. the f 16 although designwise fairly old, but it is still operated by over 20 nations how many refurbished f16′ and f 15’s could be bought withe paltry 116 million we got for 72 harriers?

Daniele Mandelli

Probably around a dozen? No idea. F16 is being replaced by the F35 in many air arms of the western allies and NATO countries, so why should we only have F16 when others are moving to 5th generation F35? The UK military prides itself in being one of the nations able to operate alongside the US, with the quality of its equipment and training of its people. In these areas the UK is world class. Numbers are another matter as well documented. Buying F16 while others move on to modern platforms is really not a good idea. The F16 is… Read more »