Japan gets first female fighter pilot inspired by 'Top Gun'

Misa Matsushima in the cockpit of an F-15 fighter jet.

(CNN)Japan has appointed its first female fighter pilot, the latest achievement in the national push for greater gender equality in the traditionally male-dominated country.

1st Lt. Misa Matsushima, 26, joined the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) after graduating from the National Defense Academy in 2014, becoming one of the 13,707 servicewomen who make up a mere 6.1% of all Japanese troops. She finished her training earlier this week, and was officially named a fighter pilot in a ceremony on Friday, said the JASDF in a press release.
"Ever since I saw the movie 'Top Gun' when I was in primary school, I have always admired fighter jet pilots," Matsushima told reporters Thursday.
    "As the first female (fighter) pilot, I will open the way. I would like work hard to meet people's expectations and show my gratitude to people who have been supporting me. I want to become a full-fledged pilot, no different from men, as soon as possible."
      "I hope to be the one to inspire more people to become a pilot," she added.
      Matsushima, who is from the eastern city of Yokohama, got her pilot's license in 2015, before advancing to fighter pilot training. She will now be stationed at the Nyutabaru Air Base, and begin flying F-15J fighter jets.
      The F-15J is a twin-engine fighter designed for air-to-air combat with other jets, capable of carrying eight radar and infrared missiles. It can reach top speeds of Mach 2.5 -- 2.5 times the speed of sound, or 1,918 mph.
      Misa Matsushima receiving her certificate from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
      "The first female fighter pilot aircraft of the Air Self Defense Force is born," said the JASDF in a tweet Thursday.