As I entered the base on an early Sunday morning, I noticed that some people from around the country traveled very far just to check out the air show. I was pretty interested myself but was shocked to see that some people actually camped out the night just to get a good spot at the air show.
Was The JASDF Air Show Fun?
The air show at Hyakuri Air Base consisted of several flybys, formation drills, take-offs, touch and gos, landings, some donuts in the air, and the same damn pattern over and over again. No Sonic Booms!!! Big Disappointment for me.
The air drills were cool at first but when repeated, it gets redundant. In addition, for a person who has seen the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels while growing up on US soil, this air show was the most boring air show I have ever seen… I guess it’s all relative right? However, I have to say that to the average Japanese person, it’s one of the coolest things to see and one thing for sure, this event was a definitely a fun event for the photographers and I appreciate the fact that the base was open for the public because it’s not an everyday thing for civvies to check out some really cool hardware!
The Best Planes On the Base?
On the ground, the coolest hardware they had to my opinion were 2 US Marine F-18s and an F-2 ( a modified F-16 that is designed to intercept missiles at very high altitudes). Unfortunately, none of these planes flew.
The F-4 As A Main Fighter For The JASDF
Of all the fighter jets flying, I was surprised to see the F-4 fighter jet! The F-4 was decommissioned some time ago in the US and now used as drones for target practice. The F-4 is an old favorite of mine because it holds many combat records of its time and is the only fight jet to date to have the most air-air kills. In history, the F-4 is probably the main fighter jet to see lots of combat action. Oh yeah, I have never seen an F-4 in flight before so it was cool to see them performing several flybys and formation drills.
However, I’m somewhat interested to why the Japanese military still fly these old-school jets. Why not use only the versatile yet massively overhauled F-15s? While modern fighter jets of today are being made with stealth and the best stuff of the 21st century, the F-4s of the Japanese air force are still using stuff from the aerial stone age. WTF? For a non-military aircraft, analog gauges and no GPS may suffice but for military jets, it almost like comparing a machine gun to a musket. Some might ask why the hell are these planes still flying? I guess the best answer lies in the constitution of Japan. I believe the US sells just enough military hardware to Japan so Japan can maintain a defensive posture to any threat in Asia. However so, Japan does have some defensive aerial power within the eastern region of Asia but with China’s J-21s, an alliance with the US military is nescessary. Otherwise, China would be laughing their ass off at the JASDF airforce. It’s interesting to note that I saw more F-4 Phantoms than there were F-15s on this particular airbase so it’s possible that most of the F-15s were rotated to a base on the western side of Japan due to recent tensions with China.
Seeing the F-4 still in service reminds me of a military advisor telling me a long time ago that if Japan was attacked by a foreign country, Japan’s self defense forces will only be able to defend Japan for a maximum of four hours if no intervention was made by its allies. I can clearly see why Japan needs the US military to support Japan’se self defense forces. But damn… it’s still cool to see these old planes in the 21st century using analog dials in the air!