Following on from my highly enjoyable visit to Hyakuri AB in 2012, I decided to return in October 2014 for the Japan Defense Forces 60th Anniversary flypast.
These annual reviews are held in front of the Prime Minister of Japan, along with many other dignitaries. Each year, the responsibility of providing the location for the flypast is rotated around the three armed services, with the Air Force taking ownership in 2014.
The event is strictly by invitation only and access to the roads surrounding the airfield is tightly controlled, with police preventing parking in many places. Fortunately, I was travelling with my good friend Junji Sato and we scoped out the situation on the day prior to the flypast, positioning ourselves outside the base (along with many others) on the approach to Runway 21R.
The event opened with 4 x F15J’s performing a ‘missing man’ formation, honouring fallen Japanese servicemen. This was swiftly followed by a multi-formation flypast by aircraft from each of the services, starting with the JGDSF helicopter contingent. This was followed by the JMSDF participation, which included with helicopters and fixed wing assets, with the last set of formations being those of the JASDF.
Unfortunately, the weather did not play ball just at the time of these interesting formations, with the cloud cover dropping and visibility being reduced significantly. In fact the weather did not really improve all day and by late afternoon we had been subject to everything except thunder and lightning or snow! We did get the benefit of some breaks in the cloud at various times during the display.
The review continued with mock airfield attacks by F15J’s, F-4’s and F-2’s, followed by The Blue Impulse display team who were able to complete what appeared to be a fairly full routine.
Closing the review was a flypast of 17 x T-4 aircraft in the shape of the number 60.
As I previously mentioned, the weather did not help the photography and I had had to post-process many of the images quite heavily in order to get some usable photos. However I hope they will convey the variety of aircraft types which were reviewed.
Surprisingly, none of the aircraft present were in special schemes to celebrate 60 years of the Defense forces, although many airframes have been painted with such schemes – perhaps they thought it would not be politic to have these visible to the PM?