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Last Flight for the Phantom

Last Flight for the Phantom

JASDF Mitsubishi RF-4EJ Kai Phantom II of the 501st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Photo: Mogami Kariya)



OMITAMA, JPN The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) ended their only reconnaissance squadron, the 501st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron based at Hyakuri Air Base, couple miles northeast of Tokyo. Their end signals a new change in the structure of the JASDF as they transition into much more advanced and newer aircraft. 


The 501st Squadron has a long history tracing back to its origins in 1961 and was the only two final squadrons to operate the remaining Mitsubishi F-4 Phantom II. Now, most of the Phantoms are operated by the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron, making Japan along with four other countries, the last to operate this historic aircraft. 




The 501st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 1961 - 2020 (Photo: Mogami Kariya)




The 501st Squadron has played an important role in responding to natural disasters including the Great Hanshin earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku earthquake/tsunami. Though their replacement has not been announced, speculations surround the future of the JASDF, where potentially reconnaissance squadron may be activated and become drone squadrons for surveillance.




A Mitsubishi RF-4EJ Kai Phantom II taking off from Hyakuri Air Base (Photo: Mogami Kariya)




The 501st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron ended all operation on March 9th, 2020. 

Mogami Kariya
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