Japan SDF jet scrambles against foreign aircraft hit 5-yr high

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Self-Defense Forces scrambled fighter jets to counter possible airspace incursions by foreign aircraft 785 times in April-December last year, the highest for the same period over the last five years, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.

The tally exceeded the number of SDF scrambles made in the full fiscal year through March 2021, at 725.

Most of the scrambles were targeted at Chinese and Russian aircraft, with the number of incidents with Chinese planes especially increasing.

The ministry is on heightened alert for coordinated maneuvering near Japan by the Chinese and Russian militaries, including joint bomber flights.

The SDF scrambled fighters against Chinese aircraft 571 times, making up over 70% of the total. The figure rose by 240 from a year before, the ministry said.

It said the SDF scrambled fighters against Russian aircraft 199 times, or a quarter of all cases, down by seven from a year before.