Russia stepping up air surveillance around Japan
By Kosuke Takahashi
The Russian Pacific Fleet has been increasing its air surveillance missions over the Sea of Japan and in the Western Pacific where Japan and the United States have deployed Aegis-equipped destroyers ahead of North Korea's planned satellite launch.
Russian Ilyushin Il-38 ('May') aircraft flew over the Sea of Japan on 22 March, 29 March and 6 April, while two Tupolev Tu-142s appeared over the Pacific side of the Japanese archipelago on 27 March, according to the Joint Staff Office of Japan's Ministry of Defence (MoD).
On all occasions the Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) scrambled fighter aircraft such as Mitsubishi F-15Js to intercept the Russian aircraft, it added.
"As tensions run high over North Korea's expected rocket launch, Russian aircraft seem to be carrying out surveillance missions," an MoD official said.
Russia also may want to carry out surveillance on the ongoing joint US-South Korean 'Foal Eagle' exercise, which runs from 1 March to 30 April, the official said.159 of 299 words
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