Japan scrambled fighter jets to intercept foreign planes more than 1,000 times in fiscal year 2021 – The Diplomat


Defense Asia | Security | East Asia

It was the second highest number of jammings in a single year, representing the deteriorating security environment surrounding Japan.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) jammed its fighter jets 1,004 times in fiscal year 2021 (fiscal year 2021) in response to foreign military aircraft approaching the country’s airspace. This is the second highest total recorded in a year since these operations began in 1958, indicating rising regional tensions.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo said in a statement on April 15 that the total number of stampedes increased by 279 from the previous fiscal year. He also said that among the foreign planes, only two Russian planes violated Japanese airspace.

Tokyo’s latest announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Japan and some neighboring countries such as China and Russia over territorial disputes.

JASDF fighters responded 722 times (72% of total) to Chinese aircraft movements in the region, up 264 from fiscal 2020 and the second-highest annual total, according to the Department of Defense .

Tokyo also sent fighters 266 times (26 percent of the total) in response to Russian aircraft, eight more than the previous fiscal year. The remaining incidents (2% of the total) involved aircraft from other countries, including Taiwan.

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Most of these incidents involved the JASDF’s Northern Air Defense Force (217 scrambles) and the Southwestern Composite Air Division (652). The latter oversees an area that includes the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

The highest number of jammings ever carried out by the JASDF in one year took place in fiscal year 2016, reaching 1,168. At the time, Beijing had strengthened its claim on the uninhabited islands after Japan bought some three to individuals and placed them under state control in 2012.

Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo pointed out at a press conference on April 15 that the JASDF had sent 12 fighters to intercept People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLANAF) Air Force planes. who had been spotted crossing the Miyako Strait, which is Beijing’s strategic gateway to the Western Pacific. located between the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako. In contrast, the JASDF was only sent on such aerial interception operations four times in fiscal year 2020.

The Chinese planes involved included Shaanxi Y-9 intelligence collection planes, but also included drones.

Kishi said Beijing “has intensified activities considered intelligence gathering”, adding that such flights have become “diverse and sophisticated”.

“In China, moves to rapidly develop a wide variety of unmanned aircraft have been observed,” he warned.

Data released by the Japanese MoD also shows that two Xian H-6 bombers, as well as two Russian Tu-95 bombers, were spotted crossing the Tsushima Strait, which connects the Sea of ​​Japan (East Sea), the Yellow Sea (West Sea), and the East China Sea on November 19, 2021. These bombers have extended the range of their activities from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean in recent years.

In its 2021 defense white paper, Japan expressed “strong concerns” about China’s activities in the East and South China Seas.


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