A Japanese F-2B lands at Tsuiki airbase. (Image © Robert van Zon)

Japan repairs first F-2 damaged in tsunami

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has successfully repaired the first of 13 Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-2 fighter aircraft damaged by the earthquake and subsequent devastating tsunami that hit Japan on 11 March 2011. The aircraft were hit by massive floods while parked at their home base of Matsushima that day.

The repaired F-2B two seat aircraft flew again on 21 April from the Mitsubishi factory in Komaki in central Japan. Upon landing at Misawa airbase in Northern Japan, it was welcomed and applauded by 600 personnel. The aircraft was hit by massive floods while parked at Matsushima, homebase of 21 Hikotai (squadron). A total of 18 F-2s were hit, with 13 deemed repairable. Most aircraft ended up damaged by the salt water, but some were extensively damaged as they were thrown against buildings by the waves.

The loss of that many F-2s would have been quite a toll for the relatively small, 94-strong Japanese F-2 fleet. Tokyo therefore asked Lockheed Martin to assist in repairs. The US manufacturer was involved in the F-2’s development earlier. The Japanese fighter aircraft shares many similarities with Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

Meanwhile, Matsushima airbase is being reinforced with concrete walls to protect it for the sea. That work is expected to be finished later this year, after 21 Hikotai will return from Misawa airbase. The squadron was based there since that dramatic day in 2011.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

A Japanese F-2B  lands at Tsuiki airbase. This one escaped the tsunami. (Image © Robert van Zon)
A Japanese F-2B lands at Tsuiki airbase. This one escaped the tsunami. (Image © Robert van Zon)