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Japan’s Fighter Jets Scramble As Nine Russian Warplanes, Il-20 Jets Approach Japanese Airspace — Reports

Fighter jets from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force took off on alert as one Russian Il-20 jet and nine, presumably Russian aircraft approached Japanese airspace on Wednesday, the Joint Staff of the Japan Self-Defense Force said.

“Overflight was conducted over the Sea of Okhotsk, the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean,” the statement said.

According to the Joint Staff, overflight was performed in the area of north Hokkaido Island and the north end of Honshu Island. An intrusion into Japan’s airspace has not been detected.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday that two Tu-95MC strategic bombers conducted surveillance flights over the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan. Fighter escorts were provided by Su-35C of Air Force and Air Defense of the Eastern Military District. The flight was scheduled and took place over neutral waters.

An air-to-air right side view of 432nd Tactical Fighter Wing F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft, foreground, and Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15J Eagle aircraft in formation during Exercise COPE NORTH 88-3.

According to the ministry, Russian long-range aircraft regularly perform flights over the neutral waters of the Arctic, North Atlantic, Black and Baltic seas, and the Pacific Ocean. “All flights of the Russian Air and Space Forces are carried out in strict observance of international airspace regulations,” the statement said.

Earlier in October, the Japanese defense ministry said that fighter jets of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force were scrambled in response to the takeoff of a Chinese helicopter from the deck of a warship, which, along with other Chinese and Russian warships, was passing near the Danjo Islands.

According to the ministry, 10 Chinese and Russian warships sailed through the Osumi Strait and at around 10 a.m local time (01:00 GMT) the Japanese military registered that a helicopter took off and landed from the deck of a Chinese destroyer 130 kilometers (81 miles) south of the Danjo Islands.

File Image for representation

“In connection with the takeoff and landing of the… helicopter, the fighters were scrambled on alarm,” the ministry says in a statement.

The ministry noted it was the same warship, from the deck of which a helicopter took off on Thursday in the Izu archipelago area.

Earlier, the Russian defense ministry said that Russian and Chinese warships conducted the first joint patrol in the Pacific Ocean from October 17-23. The vessels traversed the Tsugaru Strait in the Sea of Japan. Since the strait between Japan’s Honshu and Hokkaido islands is international, the passage of foreign ships, including military ones, is permitted by international law.

In April, Japan said the number of incidents where its fighter jets were scrambled to intercept Chinese aircraft decreased by over 200 in the fiscal year 2020, the Japanese Joint Chiefs of Staff had said.

According to the statement, last fiscal year, which began on April 1, 2020, Japanese fighter jets were scrambled 458 times to intercept Chinese aircraft and 258 times to intercept Russian aircraft, compared to 675 and 268 times, respectively, a year earlier. Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) deployed its jets a total of 725 times last year, compared to 947 times a year earlier.

In March, the media reported that JASDF changed its air defense strategy in order to lower the number of interceptions. This was done to help free resources for the advanced training of fighter pilots on recently procured F-35 stealth fighter jets that are not suitable for emergency lift-off.

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