The JASDF Intercepted More Chinese Aircraft During Coronavirus Pandemic Than Usual

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) scrambled its fighter aircraft a total of 675 times in fiscal year in response to Chinese military aircraft approaching the country’s airspace: a 5.8% increase compared with the same period in last year learned GDC quoting Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD).

The figure, which is the second-highest registered in response to Chinese aircraft during a one-year period since 1958, represents 71% of the total number of JASDF scrambles between December 2019 and 31 March 2020, according to data published by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) in Tokyo on 9 April.

Japanese fighters also responded 268 times to movements by Russian military aircraft, down from 343 times during the same period in FY 2018. The remaining four incidents involved aircraft from other countries.

In total the JASDF scrambled its fighters 947 times in FY 2019 to respond to foreign aircraft approaching the country’s airspace: down from 999 times the previous fiscal year. The figure represents the third-highest number of overall scrambles carried out by the service within a year since such operations began in 1958.

These incidents involved the JASDF’s Northern Air Defense Force (198 scrambles), the Western Air Defense Force (133), the Central Air Defense Force (35), and the Southwestern Composite Air Division (581), the latter of which 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.

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The MoD emphasised that the JASDF scrambled its fighters on 23 March 2020 to intercept People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) Shaanxi Y-9 intelligence-gathering aircraft that were spotted over the East China Sea for the first time. Japanese fighters also responded to other Shaanxi Y-9 aircraft and the Shaanxi Y-8 airborne early warning and control platform crossing the Tsushima Strait, which connects the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the Yellow Sea (West Sea), and the East China Sea.

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