The Japanese Ministry of Defense reported that during the first half of the fiscal year 2021, which starts in April, fighter jets of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled 390 times to intercept aircraft that threatened the country’s territory.
That number increased by 19 alerts compared to the same period of 2020, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi reported on October 15, 2021.
Out of the 390 alerts, 281, 72% of the total, were caused by Chinese aircraft. As for Russian aircraft, they accounted for 102 of the alerts, about 26% of them, a decreasing number compared to the previous year. The nationality of the remaining seven aircraft was undisclosed.
In 2020, Japan changed its strategy regarding interceptions, with fighter jets being scrambled solely when foreign aircraft threatened the country’s airspace.
This move follows the progressive deployment of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet. "The F-35 is not suitable for emergency lift-off, and it will become difficult to maintain the same system as before,” the Japanese Ministry of Defense said at the time.
To compensate for the reduction in systematic visual identification through interceptions, the Japanese military increased the proportion of land-based long-range radars and early warning aircraft for long-distance monitoring.