Japan Receives New 'Air Force One'

 - August 22, 2018, 8:57 AM
The first of two Boeing 777s for Japanese governmental transport duties is seen after its delivery flight from Basel to Chitose AB. (photo: JASDF)

The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has taken delivery of its first Boeing 777-300ER, which will be used for VIP transport. The aircraft arrived at the home base of the Special Airlift Group, 701st Squadron, at Chitose on August 17, and on August 20 received its JASDF registration, 80-1111. The aircraft retained U.S. civilian registration N509BJ for its delivery from Jet Aviation in Basel, Switzerland, where the interior outfitting was completed.

Following modification for government transport duties, the 777 now has fewer windows along the forward fuselage than a typical airliner, likely indicating the location of the secretary cabin, meeting rooms, and administrative office. Other visible fittings include satellite communications domes on the top fuselage.

Sometimes known as “Japan Air Force One,” the aircraft is one of a pair of 777s that were acquired in August 2014 to replace two 747-400s. The JASDF has contracted All Nippon Airways as the maintenance service provider. The 747s have been in service since 1991 and served 14 prime ministers. They often fly as a pair on official duties, with the second aircraft acting as a spare and to carry maintenance and support staff.

The JASDF's 777 is not expected to enter service until the new Japanese fiscal year, which begins on April 1, 2019. It expects to receive its second VIP 777 in December.