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New gov't aircraft arrives in Hokkaido ahead of next year's launch

A new government jet is seen at the Air Self-Defense Force's Chitose base in Hokkaido, on Aug. 17, 2018. (Kyodo)

SAPPORO (Kyodo) -- A new Japanese government airplane to be used for overseas visits by imperial family members and the prime minister arrived in Hokkaido from Switzerland Friday morning ahead of its entry into service next fiscal year.

    The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, one of two planes to be newly acquired by the government, will stay at the Air Self-Defense Force's Chitose base on the northernmost main island for trial operations and drills for crew members.

    Following the completion of maintenance work in Switzerland, the new aircraft bearing images of the Japanese flag on the main and tail wings and red curved lines on the body landed at New Chitose Airport adjacent to the ASDF base shortly before 8 a.m.

    The new plane will replace the current Boeing 747 aircraft, which has operated since 1993 and will end service by late March 2019.

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