During the 1980s the U.S. military wasn’t interested in an updated version of the F-16 so they passed on the opportunity. Japan was replacing some of their aging fleet and decided to develop the new F-16 Agile Falcon in cooperation with Mitsubishi and Lockheed Martin. Production began in 1996 with the first aircraft being delivered in 2000. The new aircraft was named the F-2 and soon earned the nickname “Viper Zero”. Although the F-2 looks similar to the original F-16 it is larger in almost every aspect.
The JASDF 8th Hikotai is based at Tsuiki AB on Kyushu Island along with its sister squadron 6th TFS. On November 25, 2018 Tsuiki AB held its annual open house air show. For this occasion the 8th TFS paint F-2A in a very eye-catching paint scheme. Since the 8th squadron name is “Black Panther” they decided to add an outline of a ferocious panther’s head on the tail. The bright yellow panther is on a very dark background making the image really stand out.