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F-1 at Misawa Base (1994)
Role close air support, ground-attack and anti-ship jet aircraft.
Manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries / Fuji Heavy Industries
First flight 3 June 1975
Introduction April 1978
Retired March 2006
Status Retired
Primary user Japan Air Self Defense Force
Produced 1975–1987
Number built 77
Developed from Mitsubishi T-2

The Mitsubishi F-1 is a Japanese swept-wing, single-seat, twin-engine supersonic strike aircraft that was in service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) from 1978 to 2006. It was Japan's first domestically designed and built supersonic combat aircraft, jointly developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries.[citation needed] It is essentially a T-2 trainer airframe modified for a dedicated anti-ship and ground attack role.

Design and development

In the mid 1960s, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) commenced studies into an advanced jet trainer which could also be modified to serve in the ground attack and anti-shipping roles. After considering license production of the T-38 Talon and SEPECAT Jaguar, Japan decided to develop its own trainer, the supersonic Mitsubishi T-2, this first flying on 20 July 1971. Cost over-runs in the T-2 program led to the proposed single seat attack version almost being abandoned, but the cancellation of the Kawasaki P-XL, the planned replacement for Japan's Kawasaki P-2J maritime patrol aircraft freed-up funds, while making it important to keep Japan's aviation industry employed, and contracts were awarded for the development of the attack version as the FS-T2kai in 1973.[1][2]

The new aircraft was a minimum change derivative of the T-2, with the rear cockpit being converted to an avionics bay by removing the rear seat, and replacing the canopy with a simple unglazed access hatch.[3] Two additional hardpoints were fitted under the wing to allow carriage of a heavier weapon load, and the avionics were improved,[4] with a new J/AWG-12 radar set, similar to the AN/AWG-12 fitted in British Royal Air Force F-4M Phantom fighter jets.[5] This set provides ranging information. Aside from the avionics changes, deletion of the rear seat, and new one-piece canopy, the only other major change from the T-2 was the strengthening of the airframe to enable it to carry a larger weapons load than the T-2. The F-1 is fitted with an internally mounted 20 mm JM61A1 Vulcan cannon with 750 rounds of ammunition. The aircraft also has seven external hardpoints for the carriage of a wide variety of stores. The fuselage hardpoint and inboard pair of underwing hardpoints are plumbed for external fuel tanks to increase the aircraft's range. The primary weapon of the F-1 is the ASM-1 and the newer ASM-2 long-range anti-ship missile. This weapon is roughly in the class of the American AGM-84 Harpoon or French AM.39 Exocet. Other weapons carried include the all-aspect short-range heat-seeking AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile for air-to-air combat. This weapon is carried on the wingtip rails usually, but it can also be carried on the outboard underwing hardpoints for the F-1's secondary air defense role. Other air-to-ground weapons carried include rocket pods (JLAU-3/A) of 70 mm (2.75 in) size as well as bombs of 227 kg (500 lb) and 340 kg (750 lb) in size (Mk82 and M117 respectively). In addition, the Mk-82 and M117 bombs can be fitted with infrared guidance kits, turning them into precision-guided weapons that home in on heat radiation emitted from seaborne targets such as ships or other ground-based targets. When fitted with this kit, the bomb becomes known as GCS-1.

The F-1 was replaced by the F-2 (Japan/U.S. developed, based on the F-16C/D), as well as upgraded F-4EJ Kai Phantom IIs. The last six active F-1s, based at Tsuiki in Fukuoka Prefecture, were retired on 9 March 2006, having reached the 4,000 hour limit of their airframes.



Survivors / Aircraft on display

Mitsubishi F-1 on display at Fuchū Air Base, Tokyo
Mitsubishi F-1 on display at Fuchū Air Base, Tokyo

Specifications (F-1)

Data from Mitsubishi's Sabre Successor[7]

General characteristics



See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era


  1. ^ Lake 1995, pp. 52–53.
  2. ^ Sekigawa 1980, pp. 117–120.
  3. ^ Lake 1995, p.53.
  4. ^ Sekigawa 1980, pp. 120–121.
  5. ^ Lake 1995, p.68.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Thompson, Paul J-HangarSpace - Where Are They Now? Retrieved September 16, 2016
  7. ^ Sekigawa 1980, p.130.
  8. ^ Michell 1994, p.128.
  • Eden, Paul (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Aircraft. London: Amber Books, 2004. ISBN 1-904687-84-9.
  • Lake, Jon. "Mitsubishi F-1: Ship-killing Samurai". World Air Power Journal, Volume 23, Winter 1995. London:Aerospace Publishing. ISBN 978-1-874023-64-7. ISSN 0959-7050. pp. 50–71.
  • Michell, Simon (editor). Jane's Civil and Military Aircraft Upgrades 1994-95. Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 1994. ISBN 0-7106-1208-7.
  • Sekigawa, Eiichiro. "Mitsubishi's Sabre Successor". Air International, March 1980, Vol 18 No 3. Bromley, UK:Fine Scroll. ISSN 0306-5634. pp. 117–121, 130–131.