Japanese fighters flew 1,004 times in the past year to respond to Russian and Chinese military aircraft, the second highest level since the release of the data.
The above figures were recorded by the Japanese Ministry of Defense in the fiscal year 2021, which ended in March, and announced on April 15. This is the second-highest number of sorties since Japan released data from 1958, the highest number recorded in fiscal 2016 at 1,168.
In fiscal year 2021, Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fighters took off 722 times to respond to Chinese aircraft, an increase of more than 1.5 times compared to 2020. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said The number of sorties increased as the PLA Air Force increased its intelligence gathering, and said its reconnaissance flights “became diversified and sophisticated”.
The Air Self-Defense Force in southwestern Japan dispatched 652 fighter jets to respond to Chinese military aircraft, the most among the JASDF’s four divisions.
This unit, based in Okinawa, is responsible for monitoring the surrounding area, including the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu island group. Japan has repeatedly claimed that Chinese coast guard ships “intruded into territorial waters” around this group of islands.
Japanese fighters also took off 266 times in fiscal year 2021 to respond to Russian military aircraft, an increase of eight times compared to fiscal 2020. Minister Kishi said that Russian aircraft maintained operations in the region even when they launched a special military operation in Ukraine at the end of February.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said the Russian plane had “intruded into its airspace” in September 2021 and March, both times off the coast of Hokkaido. Russian and Chinese bombers in November 2021 flew joint patrols over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
Russia and China have not commented on this information.
Nguyen Tien (According to SCMP)