According to Japan Ministry of Defense, Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter jets scrambled fighter jets 675 times to intercept Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and People’s Liberation Army Navy Air Force (PLANAF) aircraft between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020.
The 675 scrambles conducted by the JASDF against PLAAF/PLANAF planes constitute a 5.8 percent increase compared to the prior year.
It marks the second-highest number of scrambles in response to Chinese military aircraft for a one-year period since 1958.
In total, the JASDF scrambled fighter jets 947 times in fiscal year 2019 to respond to foreign military aircraft approaching Japan’s airspace. In comparison, during fiscal year 2018 the service conducted 999 sorties against foreign military aircraft.
The peak year for JASDF scrambles against foreign military aircraft remains 2016 with 1,168 reported sorties.
Out of the 1,168 scrambles in 2016, 851 were conducted against PLAAF and PLANAF aircraft. In 2017 and 2018 that number was 500 and 638 respectively.
The JASDF deploys Mitsubishi F-15J/Kai all-weather air superiority fighters, F-2 multirole fighter jets, a Mitsubishi license-produced variant of Lockheed Martin’s F-16, and F-4EJ/RF-4 Phantom II fighter aircraft for interception missions.
Scrambles against Chinese and Russian military aircraft are conducted by the JASDF’s Northern Air Defense Force, the Western Air Defense Force, the Central Air Defense Force, and the Southwestern Composite Air Division.
In detail, JASDF’s Northern Air Defense Force conducted 198 scrambles, the Western Air Defense Force 133, the Central Air Defense Force 35, and the Southwestern Composite Air Division 581 scrambles during fiscal year 2019. The JASDF last scrambled fighter jets on March 23 to intercept PLANAF Shaanxi Y-9 Y-9JB (GX-8) electronic warfare and surveillance planes that were spotted over the East China Sea.