For the first time after four years, Air Self-Defense Force fighter jets had to scramble against North Korean military aircraft from April to June of this year. They did it around nine times during those months, according to the Defense Ministry. It was the first time since 2009 that they had to do so against the reclusive state.
Even though there were no actual intrusions into Japanese airspace, the ASDF had to respond to the North Korean aircraft that were flying over the Sea of Japan. The Defense Ministry believes these aircraft were trying to gather information about the Aegis destroyers that were positioned in the Sea of Japan due to the threats of missile launches from Pyongyang during those months. The constant rhetoric coming from North Korea during that time was that they were willing to attack the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region if they were duly provoked.
In that same period, the ASDF had to scramble a total of 115 times, including 69 times against Chinese aircraft and 31 against the Russians. Even though Chinese aircraft is still the highest on a per country basis, the number fell from a high of 146 times during the January to March period. But a ministry official said that 69 is still too high. Before the worsening of the territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands, the most scrambles were against Russian aircraft.
[ via Jiji Press ]