In June–July 1975, the Japan Defense Agency (JDA, now Ministry of Defense) examined the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle as one of the 13 candidates for the replacement fighter of the F-104J/DJ Starfighter and F-4EJ Phantom II. A single-seat F-15C and a twin-seat F-15D were evaluated at Edwards AFB, and by December that year, 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 was achieved.
After congressional review, the Department of Defense (DoD) withheld the aircraft's electronic warfare and engine systems from the licensing. 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.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force acquired 203 F-15Js and 20 F-15DJs, of which 2 F-15Js and 12 F-15DJs were built by McDonnell Douglas in St.Louis, Missouri. Dubbed the "Peace Eagle" by the DoD FMS program, the first F-15J built in St. Louis was delivered to the USAF for its first flight on 4 June 1980, and a subsequent cruise on 15 July to Japan. Additionally, 8 F-15Js were manufactured in large components and shipped to Japan for final assembly by Komaki of Mitsubishi, the first of these making its maiden flight on 26 August 1981 (serial number 12–8803). Companies divided the remainder share and produced it under license from 1981, with final assembly of aircraft performed by Mitsubishi.
In 1980, the Japanese government applied for access to advanced technology through the U.S.-Japan Forum (S&TF) but was rejected. The JDA and the DoD held an annual meeting about relaxation of the regulation after a program was started. In these meetings, the DoD official gave an answer that permitted access to initially prohibited technology of various types including composite material.
In the latter period of 1981, the first F-15J/DJ aircraft were sent to the 202 Squadron, which was reorganized as an Eagle FTU and renamed the 23 Flying Training Squadron at Nyutabaru base on 21 December 1982. The JASDF developed a plan to form the first squadron after the notorious KAL007 shooting down by a Soviet Su-15 on 1 September 1983. In March 1984, new F-15Js began replacing the 203 Squadron's F-104Js at Chitose base, located across the La Pérouse Strait from the Soviet fighter base on Sakhalin Island.
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