Jet fighter scrambles by Japan have soared back to Cold War levels in the face of increased air incursions by neighbouring Russia and China.
Japanese warplanes were sent up 943 times in the year to March – a 16% increase on the previous year – according to the country’s Self Defence Force (SDF).
This is the second highest number of intercept flights ever recorded over a 12-month period since records began in 1958 and only one less than a record 944 in 1984.
An SDF spokesman said: “It represents a sharp increase.”
Although not a direct measure of Russian and Chinese military activity, the figures indicate an increase in operations by the two countries.
It reflects an increasingly assertive China which is hiking defence spending by more than 10% a year and a resurgent Russia in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea last year.
Japan has also increased defence spending, although to a lesser extent, buying a range of new military hardware, including longer-range patrol aircraft, cargo jets, helicopter carriers and stealth fighters… see more