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Number of JASDF scrambles drops 23% in FY 2020/21

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) scrambled its fighter aircraft a total of 725 times in fiscal year (FY) 2020/21 in response to foreign military aircraft approaching the country’s airspace: a decrease of 23% compared with the same period in FY 2019/20.

The Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a 9 April statement that there were 222 fewer scrambles in FY 2020/21 compared to the previous fiscal year, with the figure representing the lowest number of scrambles since FY 2012/13.

According to the data, JASDF fighters responded 458 times (63% of the total) to movements by Chinese military aircraft between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021: down 217 from the same period a year earlier.

Japan also scrambled its fighters 258 times (36% of the total) in response to Russian military aircraft: down 10 from FY 2019/20.

“The Chinese and Russian militaries remain active around our country’s airspace,” said Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi on 9 April, citing a December 2020 incident in which four Chinese Xian H-6 bombers and two Russian Tu-95 bombers jointly flew over parts of the Sea of Japan (also known as East Sea), the East China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean.

No violations of Japanese airspace were registered during FY 2020/21.

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