The Japan Air Self-Defense Force announced today that the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron has officially moved to Misawa Air Base, adopting the F-35A as its new aircraft. The 301st is now the second official JASDF F-35A squadron, alongside the 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron.
A ceremony was held at Misawa Air Base to commemorate the change of platform and base. Present at the ceremony were two F-35As already painted with the 301st’s tail markings. The frog’s scarf has been updated as well, going to three stars to match the squadron’s new parent unit, the 3rd Air Wing.
The 301st’s adoption of the F-35A marks the official retirement of the F-4EJ Kai from JASDF frontline service, with a send-off ceremony held last month. The retirement comes after a second livestream of an F-4EJ Kai training sortie on December 9, featuring Phantom 436. While not broadcast during the livestream, Phantom 436 received a water cannon salute after landing following the sortie, as has become tradition for the final flights of JASDF Phantoms.
Before that, 436 and 315 were present at the Ibaraki Airport Mini Festival on December 5. The Mini Festival commemorated the tenth anniversary of the opening of the airport, which uses the runway facilities of Hyakuri Air Base. The two commemorative Phantoms were parked on the apron of the airport, drawing the attention of planespotters once again. Additionally, the JASDF opened a booth in the airport terminal, showing off photos of base activities and answering visitor inquiries.
The 301st’s transition to the F-35A now leaves the Air Development and Test Wing as the sole operator of the F-4EJ. The ADTW has now applied a new retro commemorative livery to F-4EJ 301, giving it an appearance similar to how it looked when it first joined the ADTW. “Phantom Forever” is written in white across its sides, while “Thank You 1971-2021” is present on its belly, one last tribute to the JASDF Phantoms’ popularity with planespotters across Japan and the world.