JH-7 fighter.

According to the Asashi Shimbun, the Air Self Defense Forces have flown 44 intercept missions against Chinese military aircraft this year, the highest number of intercepts since 2006. Furthermore, since the September trawler incident in the Senkaku islands, Chinese planes are flying closer to Japanese planes than ever before, almost close enough to be visible to the naked eye. (Link)

In the meantime, SDF intelligence gathering planes have been busy reading China’s electronic signals:

The Maritime SDF has been deploying EP-3 signal intelligence reconnaissance aircraft on top of P-3C patrol aircraft to the airspace northwest of the Nansei island chain on an almost daily basis to monitor Chinese air and naval activities in the area.

The Air SDF routinely intercepts electronic signals with its signal intelligence aircraft.

The P-3C and EP-3 Orion aircraft fly out of Naha Air Base, on Okinawa.

Also, apparently the Russians weren’t the only ones who tried to crash Keen Sword 2011.

On Dec. 7, during the “Keen Sword” joint military exercise between Japan and the United States, F-15 fighter jets scrambled out of Naha Air Base because an unidentified aircraft was approaching the ADIZ. It eventually entered the ADIZ and flew along the Japan-China median line.

The ASDF fighter pilots visually confirmed that it was a Chinese Navy Y-8X maritime patrol aircraft and returned to the base.

Oh China, is there nothing you won’t copy?

The unnamed Japanese officials quoted for the article get in two good digs at China. One, they express concern that a Chinese plane flying this more aggressive profile could cause an incident much like the one that downed a Chinese J-8 fighter and forced a U.S. Navy EP-3 intelligence aircraft down on Hainan island.

“Chinese military pilots are less skilled than Japanese and American pilots and they fly erratically at times,” said one official.”

The article also theorizes that Chinese aircraft are unable to fly any closer to the Senkakus because their ground-based radars can see only so far. Ouch!

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch