303rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
Mitsubishi F-15 (10).jpg
303 Squadron Mitsubishi F-15Js
ActiveOctober 26, 1976-present
Country Japan
Branch Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Part ofCentral Air Defense Force, 6th Air Wing
Garrison/HQKomatsu Air Base
Nickname(s)"Fighting dragon"
Aircraft flown
FighterMitsubishi F-15J/DJ
TrainerKawasaki T-4

The 303rd Tactical Fighter Squadron (第303飛行隊 (dai-sann-byaku-sann-hikoutai)) is a squadron of the 6th Air Wing of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JSDF) based at Komatsu Air Base, in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It is equipped with Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ and Kawasaki T-4 aircraft.[1][2]


The squadron was formed as the third of the JASDF's McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ Phantom II squadrons. It replaced the 4th Squadron, which had been equipped with North American F-86F Sabres, and was formed using some of the personnel from the 4th squadron. At the time the JASDF's squadron numbering system was dependent on the aircraft model used. There was a gap between the disbanding of the 4th and the founding of the 303rd due to discussions with the local community near the base about the F-4s being based there.[2]

On June 17, 1977, the squadron began quick reaction alert (QRA) flights. There were many intercepts of the regular "Tokyo Express" flights by Soviet aircraft such as Tupolev Tu-95 and Myasishchev M-4 bombers over the Sea of Japan. Some of them were transiting to or from the Soviet Union's Cam Ranh Base in southern Vietnam. During a QRA on June 27, 1980, a Tu-16 Badger of the Soviet Air Force on a Tokyo Express flight crashed near Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa Prefecture in the Sea of Japan. There were no survivors. The remains of three crew members were recovered by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship Nemuro.[3]

On December 1, 1987, the squadron re-equipped with F-15J/DJ aircraft. It was the first F-4 squadron to re-equip with the F-15. Unlike many JASDF fighter squadrons, it has been located at the same base for its entire existence.[1][2]

On 22 November 1995 F-15J 02-8919 flown by Lieutenant Tatsumi Higuchi was shot down by an AIM-9L Sidewinder missile accidentally fired by his wingman during air-intercept training over the Sea of Japan. The pilot ejected safely.[4][5]

The squadron participated in the US military exercise Cope North in Guam in 2000[2] and in the exercise Red Flag - Alaska in 2009,[6] 2011 and 2012. During the 2011 exercise it carried out bilateral exercises with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for the first time, flying with McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets of the RAAF's No. 3 Squadron.[7][8]

In July 2018 aircraft of the squadron trained in Japanese airspace with US B-52 bombers.[9][10]

Tail markings

Tail marking (2010)
Tail marking (2010)

Originally the squadron's tail marking was of the 6th Air Wing's red, white and blue marking. In 1981 the tail marking changed to be that of a dragon inside a stylized "6". The squadron's call sign is "dragon", and in addition the dragon depicted in the tail marking is said to be the protector of Mount Haku, which is not far from the base.[2]

In popular culture

The squadron appeared in the 1993 anime film Patlabor 2: The Movie, the 2004 video game Drakengard, the 2006 anime series Yomigaeru Sora – Rescue Wings and the 2007 film Midnight Eagle.

Aircraft operated

303 Sqn Kawasaki T-4 (2012)
303 Sqn Kawasaki T-4 (2012)

Fighter aircraft

Liaison aircraft

See also


  1. ^ a b Thompson, Paul JASDF – Order of Battle July 1, 2017 J-HangarSpace Retrieved September 21, 2017
  2. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Paul JASDF – Squadron Histories J-HangarSpace Retrieved September 21, 2017
  3. ^ Samurai Phantoms Retrieved September 27, 2017
  4. ^ "F-15 Eagle Losses and Ejections". ejection-history.org.uk – Project Get Out and Walk. Archived from the original on 2007-12-21. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
  5. ^ Davies and Didly 2007, p. 245
  6. ^ Japan Air Self-Defense Force joins RED FLAG-Alaska training October 13, 2009 Retrieved September 22, 2017
  7. ^ RAAF exercises with JASDF fighters for the first time July 27, 2011 Australian Aviation Retrieved September 25, 2017
  8. ^ Volume 53 No 14 August 4, 2011 Air Force Magazine Retrieved September 25, 2017
  9. ^ "US, Japan bomber-fighter integration training showcases strength of alliance". July 26, 2018. Retrieved July 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "米軍との共同訓練の実施について" (PDF). www.mod.go. Ministry of Defense. July 30, 2018. Retrieved July 30, 2018. (in Japanese)