By April 1978, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was designated as the primary contractor and licensing for the F-15C/D.

Mitsubishi Corporation built a number of famous aircraft during World War II, including the famous A6M “Zero” naval fighter, but Japan stopped developing and manufacturing combat aircraft after the war. The country, for decades, produced American combat aircraft under license. Japan is the only country authorized to produce the US F-15 fighter jet. Currently, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force owns 156 F-15J fighters (equivalent to F-15C) and 45 F-15DJ fighters (equivalent to F-15D). Japan is also planning to upgrade 98 F-15J fighters with advanced avionics to improve combat performance.

In the 1970s, to replace the obsolete fleet of F-104 Starfighter and F-4EJ Phantom II, the Japan Self-Defense Agency examined the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle as a replacement. In December 1975, the F-15 was announced the winner, with the government intending to purchase 187 F-15J/DJs. By April 1978, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries was designated as the primary contractor and licensing for the F-15C/D.

Mitsubishi F-15J
Mitsubishi F-15J

Initially, the aircraft were produced in the U.S. and exported to Japan. This initial export production contributed to aircraft development under the defense industry of Japan while facilitating base production of aircraft, achieving the goal of producing a fighter to Japan’s requirements. In March 1984, new F-15Js began replacing the 203rd Tactical Fighter Squadron’s F-104Js at Chitose Air Base.

In late October 2019 the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency approved a possible sale to Japan of up to 103 APG-82 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars, 116 Advanced Display Core Processor II Mission System Computers and 101 AN/ALQ-239 Digital Electronic Warfare Systems for the upgrade of 98 F-15Js to a “Japanese Super Interceptor” configuration for an estimated cost of $4.5 billion. It can also carry a large air-to-surface weapon on its centerline weapon station, such as an AGM-158B JASSM-ER or AGM-158C LRASM, giving the aircraft an air-to-ground and anti-ship capability. In July 2020, Boeing signed an agreement with MHI to provide assistance and support to the program. Work is set to start in 2022.

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