Spottingtrip Japan: Komatsu
The fourth airbase we visited was Komatsu. The airfield at Komatsu is a shared airfield between the JASDF and civil aviation.
Focusing on the military part, Komatsu houses 4 squadrons that uses aircraft.
303 and 306 Tactical Fighter Squadron are based there and are flying the F-15 J/DJ and the Kawasaki T-4’s.
Also using the F-15 J/DJ and T-4’s is the Tactical Fighter Training Group, better known as the Japanese Aggressor squadron. The F-15’s from the TFTG are painted in several gorgeous paint schemes. This unit is tasked to act as the bad guys/red air and uses enemy tactics, procedures,… in order to give the Japanese defense forces realistic training in air combat.
Last unit that’s stationed at Komatsu and uses aircraft is the Air Rescue Squadron and uses the U-125A and the UH-60J.
At Komatsu we stayed 2 days and you can position yourself at various spots around the field. When it is cloudy weather or late in the afternoon, you can position yourself on the panorama terrace on the civil side of the airport. From there you have a great overview of the field and are able to photograph the aircraft that are taking off or landing.
On our first day runway 24 was in use and as it became cloudy we decided to have a look at the panorama terrace on top of the civil terminal. After the sun came trough and the temperature began to rise we drove back to the spot in the landing, that is located next to the road that runs in front of the runway.
In the afternoon you better position yourself on the opposite side of the runway. Here a very beautiful parking spot is created, this place is called the Komatsu Skypark. It is one of the most beautiful created places that I’ve ever seen to watch aircraft movements.
The Komatsu Skypark consists out of a big parking with drink machines, toilets and signs that explain what aircraft fly from Komatsu.
During the second wave of take-off’s in the afternoon, Ludo and I tried to make some take-off pictures from the Aggressor Eagles. We positioned ourselves on a spot next to the sea and we were able to capture a couple of Eagles when they banked after take-off. A lot of mm’s are necessary though to make some descent shots, at least 500mm’s.
On our second day the wind turned halfway through the day and we had to find a new spot somewhere in the vicinity of runway 06. As we arrived we found a spot in a field were already a couple of local spotters were waiting for the last remaining planes to return.
After these planes had landed we decided to try our luck again at the panorama terrace as the sun had turned around far enough to try this. When we arrived at the terrace a friendly Japanese spotter told us that night flight missions were planned so we still could expect some flying action.
From the terrace we could follow the start-up from the Eagles and also a UH-60J took off for a training mission. After the last Eagles took off we called it a day and drove to our next airbase.
Text: Tim Van den Boer
Photography: Tim Van den Boer, Ludo Kloek