Asian F-16 fighters receive used power plants from JASDF F-15

Japan may export used F-15 engines to revitalize Indonesia’s F-16 fighter jets. According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, Indonesia requested these engines. This request follows a pre-existing agreement between the two countries on defense equipment and technology transfer, making the engine exchange a possibility.

US-made F-16 in the sky over the Black Sea: predator or prey?
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

Japan is contemplating rejuvenating Indonesia’s F-16 jets by fitting them with used Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan engines from their retiring F-15 fleet. The identical features of the F-15 and F-16 engines provide Tokyo a special chance to satisfy Jakarta’s particular demand ingeniously and efficiently.

Around 100 of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force’s [ASDF] F-15s are on the brink of retirement. Why? The rigors of modernization have proven to be a steep hill to climb. 

Meanwhile, over in Jakarta, it’s all systems go for an Air Force makeover. They’re shopping for sleek Rafale fighter jets from France while juggling the maintenance and operation of their existing squadron of American-made F-16 Fighting Falcons and Russian Sukhoi Su-27/30 Flanker fighters. Now, that’s a balancing act! Also, a few days ago, Indonesia bought 12 Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter jets from the Qatar Emiri Air Force. 

Japan’s defense equipment and technology transfer rules restrict foreign transfer, excluding categories like “rescue, transportation, vigilance, surveillance, or minesweeping”. However, these rules don’t apply to parts, especially those previously exported to the U.S., allowing their export in international joint development scenarios.

New F-15's avatar called F-15EX will carry GBU-57 'bunker buster'
Photo by USAF, Matthew Plew

The government plans to present a new policy at the forthcoming LDP and Komeito coalition meeting. Some LDP members suggest a revision of guidelines to boost equipment export. With a focus on China, the goal is to maintain the current Indo-Pacific status. Japan hopes to create a secure environment by considering engine exports to Indonesia.

Meaningful power plant

What’s next for the nearly 200 engines that will soon be plucked from their F-15 fighter jet homes as these magnificent machines head into retirement? It’s a question worth pondering, especially since these engines still have plenty of life left in them and are ripe for re-use. 

Patria may take over the MRO of F100 PW engines for F-16 and F-15
Photo credit: Reddit

Indeed, their impressive operational viability has put them in the international spotlight. A staggering sixteen countries have already raised their hands, expressing a fervent interest in nabbing these high-performance powerhouses.

Hundreds of Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan engines from Mitsubishi F-15J fighter jets are set to retire, as announced by Hiroshi Ide, President of IHI Corporation, on May 9. The IHI Corporation team is considering various possibilities for these engines, including the potential of exporting them to another country.

Japan’s “Medium-Term Defense Program”, conceived in the twilight of 2022, underscores a robust drive to expedite the swapping of aging fighter jets that are beyond the scope of refurbishment. The master plan is to supplant these obsolete aerial warhorses with the creme de la creme of modern aviation technology. 

In line with this grand scheme, Japan is eyeing the replacement of roughly half of the 200 formidable Air Self-Defense Force [ASDF] F-15s with cutting-edge F-35s within the next ten years. This carefully drafted blueprint details a steady retirement of the F-15s, bidding farewell to around ten of these airborne titans annually.

Patria may take over the MRO of F100 PW engines for F-16 and F-15
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The F-15, a twin-engine fighter jet, is retiring, possibly providing around 20 engines each year for reuse. A thrilling prospect for aerospace enthusiasts. These are second-hand Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan engines from the F-15s. They could power air forces in countries operating F-15s and F-16s such as Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and some European countries.

Golden opportunity

US-made F-16 in the sky over the Black Sea: predator or prey?
Photo credit: USAF

Japan, in an innovative move, strengthens its defense ties by transferring its powerful engines to nations sharing similar security interests. It’s a win-win situation fostering stronger cooperative relations and bolstering bilateral defense ties. 

Here’s an interesting tidbit: the Pratt & Whitney F100 turbofan engines, the heart of these jets, are manufactured under license by the Japanese firm, IHI Corporation. Now, if these engines were to be transferred abroad, guess who would be in charge of their maintenance and servicing? Yes, that’s right – Japanese firms. 

What’s in it for them? Well, this arrangement would open a floodgate of opportunities for domestic companies. They would be engaged in continuous maintenance activities, promoting the growth and honing the expertise of Japan’s very own aerospace industry. It’s a golden opportunity, indeed!


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