Posts Tagged ‘Japan Air Self-Defense Force’

Op-Ed: If we’re going to rule out negotiations with North Korea, we have to be ready for war — Chinese air traffic controllers eager to chase away U.S. military aircraft

March 23, 2017

By Robert L. Gallucci
The Los Angeles Times

March 23, 2017

Image may contain: airplane and sky

Robert L. Gallucci

During a visit to Seoul last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson drew some reddish lines around North Korea.

“Twenty years of talking has brought us to the point we are today,” Tillerson said at a news conference. “Talk is not going to change the situation.” If North Korea threatens South Korean or American forces or elevates the level of its weapons program, Tillerson warned, preemptive military action is “on the table.”

Tillerson’s comments did not come entirely out of left field. For months, Washington has been abuzz over the possibility that North Korea may successfully test an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon to an American city. In a New Year’s address, North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un indicated such a test could come sooner than we think.

But Tillerson’s warning did signal that the Trump administration is taking U.S. policy toward North Korea in a new direction — that we may be serious about abandoning engagement and willing to pursue containment through military action.

If North Korea is newly capable of striking an American city with a nuclear-armed missile, however, it would not be the first time that the U.S. was defenseless against an adversary’s weapons.

Americans lived for years with Soviet and Chinese missiles pointing in our direction. We had no way to defend against Soviet missiles in the 1950s, nor Chinese missiles in the 1960s. We were worried in 1960 when Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet leader, pounded his shoe against a table during a session of the United Nations General Assembly. For many reasons, Mao worried us even more.

Analysts can read Tillerson’s comments in different ways. If he meant to indicate that the U.S. would undertake a military strike on North Korea to prevent the testing and development of an ICBM — a “left of launch” program, as the Pentagon would call it — such an act could not properly be called preemption, because it would not be responding to an imminent attack. Rather, we would be taking preventive action and risking a preventive war with the goal of cutting off the emergence of a future threat. The invasion of Iraq in 2003, for instance, was a preventive war, not an act of preemption. Ethics, law and prudence are on the side of preemption but not on preventive strikes.

If, on the other hand, the U.S. intelligence community were to conclude that North Korea was about to launch a missile at Los Angeles, Seoul or Tokyo, we should fully expect Trump to order a preemptive strike to take out the missile before it is launched. If this is the only line Tillerson meant to draw, he should have saved the ink and not made news with the threat.

In either scenario, we can expect that attacking North Korea, even with an intended “surgical strike,” will bring retaliation, most likely against South Korean and American forces and civilians on the Korean peninsula — there are a lot of both within range of North Korean missiles and artillery — and possibly a second Korean War. The U.S. and its allies should be ready for this. At the moment, neither we nor our allies are prepared for war.

With so much at stake, Tillerson should disclose what exactly is new about the North Korean threat that makes deterrence suddenly unreliable. Certainly it is not the quality or quantity of North Korea’s nuclear weapons. At the height of the Cold War, the number of Soviet weapons — counting tactical and strategic weapons deployed in silos, on submarines and aboard bombers —reached 30,000 or so. The North Koreans have less than 20. It is possible that U.S. officials lack confidence in the rationality of Kim Jong Un. If this is the case, the American people should be informed that this is why we are risking another Korean War.

Some argue that an alternative to military action is the adoption of tougher sanctions together with more pressure on China to allow them to work. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with such an approach, there is little reason to think it will be effective in stopping North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. So the real alternative to war is a negotiated settlement that addresses the threat. There is a lot of work yet to be done in order to set the table for productive negotiations. More than 20 years ago, we struck a deal with the North that froze plutonium production for almost a decade before the deal collapsed: They cheated and we caught them. That was still a deal worth making, and the next one will have to be better. For starters, we should require that North Korea improve the human rights of its citizens as a condition of normalizing relations with the U.S.

The United States has no real capability to shoot down ICBMs, but we never have. We have been defenseless against this threat for six decades. For all those years, we have relied on deterrence and the promise of devastating retaliation. The logic is that the capability of our conventional and nuclear weapons deters our enemies and provides for the nation’s security. If the U.S. is going to abandon this logic now, it should be done with great care, and with the full understanding that we are risking war.

Robert L. Gallucci is a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University. He served in the State Department as chief U.S. negotiator during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1994, and as an ambassador-at-large and special envoy dealing with threats posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.


China threatens American B-1 bomber flying off South Korea: Stand off as Beijing claims US aircraft violated its ‘defense zone’

  • China has accused the US plane of operating in its airspace without permission 
  • Pliots of a Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber were forced to respond to controllers 
  • Chinese Air Traffic officials radioed the bomber flying 70 miles from Jeju Island 
  • The US bomber was in the controversial Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone
  • American and Japanese officials do not recognize the airspace China claism 

Chinese military officials have accused US bombers of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea.

Pilots of the US Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber were forced to respond to Chinese air traffic controllers during a flight about 70 nautical miles southwest of South Korea’s Jeju Island.

American officials told CNN the pilots told the Chinese controllers they were conducting ‘routine operations in international airspace and did not deviate from their flight path’.

Chinese military officials have accused a US B-1B Lancer bomber of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea

Chinese military officials have accused a US B-1B Lancer bomber of flying too close to the country and operating in its airspace during a mission off South Korea

This map shows where the bomber was flying when Chinese officials contacted the American pilots during the stand off

This map shows where the bomber was flying when Chinese officials contacted the American pilots during the stand off

The network revealed the tense moment was the result of the bombers had actually entered the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone – a controversial area of sky over the East China Sea.

The airspace also covers islands claimed by Japan, and it is not officially recognized by the US.

‘Pacific Air Forces … did not recognize the Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone when it was announced in November of 2013, and does not recognize it today,’ US Pacific Air Forces spokesman Major Phil Ventura told CNN.

This map shows how the different airspaces in the area in question are divided up by the different countries in the region

This map shows how the different airspaces in the area in question are divided up by the different countries in the region

The US B-1B Lancer bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s on March 21

The US B-1B Lancer bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s on March 21

‘The ADIZ has not changed our operations.’

Chinese authorities demand airplanes flying over or through the airspace must first notify officials.

US Air Force sources said B-1 bomber was carrying out training operations with Japanese and South Korean jets in recent days.

On March 21, the American bomber was seen flying in formation with Japan Air Self Defense Force F-15s.


Taiwan: Ministry of Defense keeping a close eye on Chinese military activities

November 28, 2016


‘POLITICALLY SENSITIVE’: Taiwan did not scramble jets in response to Chinese aircraft flying over the Miyako Strait, but asked airborne planes to monitor the area, an official said

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter
Taipei Times

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday said it has been keeping a close eye on Chinese military activities and monitored six Chinese military aircraft flying over a strategic waterway near Japan’s Okinawa Islands two days ago.

The ministry monitored Chinese bombers and fighter jets that flew over the Miyako Strait between the Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa on Friday last week, ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said.

The Chinese aircraft were believed to be two Su-30 fighter jets, two H-6 bombers and two surveillance aircraft, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.

Chinese H-6 bomber. Reuters photo

The flight was legal and did not infringe on Japanese territorial airspace, but the Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets to conduct reconnaissance as Chinese aircraft passed the strait, a critical entryway into the Western Pacific, the report said.

The four Chinese bombers and surveillance airplanes flew northwest over the Pacific Ocean before traveling over the strait and heading toward the East China Sea, it said.

It was assumed that the four aircraft flew over the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines and circled around Taiwan, the report added.

The two Su-30 fighter jets passed the strait from the opposite direction and turned around to join the four other aircraft and return to the East China Sea, according to the report.

Su-30 fighter jet

Chen yesterday said that the Taiwanese military has been closely monitoring the nation’s waters and airspace to ensure national security, without being provocative or escalating potential conflicts.

The military did not send fighter jets to patrol Taiwan’s airspace in response to the politically sensitive flight, but it asked airborne aircraft to conduct reconnaissance, Chen said, without specifying what aircraft were used.

The flight was part of a routine distant-sea exercise and was not targeted at any specific nation, Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force spokesman Shen Jinke (申進科) said.

It was the second such flight since September, when Beijing dispatched fighters and bombers to the area as territorial disputes in the South and East China seas escalated.


Is Japan’s F-2 Fighter Better than The Chinese J-10?

October 17, 2015

Want China Times

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s F-2 multirole fighter would have the edge over its Chinese counterpart, the Chengdu J-10, in an aerial encounter, defense and security blogger Kyle Mizokami says in a piece for National Interest published on Oct. 13.

An F-2 multirole fighter developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and Mitsubishi. (Internet photo)

An F-2 multirole fighter developed jointly by Lockheed Martin and Mitsubishi. (Internet photo)

The territorial dispute over the Diaoyutai islands (Diaoyu to China, Senkaku to Japan which controls them) in the East China Sea has increased the chance of close aerial encounters between fighters of the two sides, Mizokami wrote. He said Japanese patrol aircraft had already been intercepted several times by PLA fighters in the region after China declared its air defense identification zone over the East China Sea toward the end of 2013.

While Japan’s American-built F-15J fighter will engage China’s Russian-built Su-27 for aerial superiority, the Mitsubishi F-2 is more likely to go head to head with the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group’s J-10 since both aircraft were developed as multirole fighters with aerial combat as well as ground support capabilities.

Overall, Mizokami believes the F-2 has the advantage over its rival in an aerial engagement. First, the F-2 has a superior combat radius — 520 miles, compared to J-10’s 340. Second, the F-2 has a better active electronically scanned array radar than the J-10. Picking up the J-10 first, the F-2 can launch a AAM-4B from beyond visual range, he said.

The AAM-4B is currently the only missile in the world fitted with active electronically scanned array radar, he added. Because of the missile’s after-launch target lock capability, the Japanese pilot could begin evasive maneuvers even before achieving radar lock and the J-10 could be shot down before it is even able to engage.

Mizokami admitted one advantage of the J-10 over the F-2 at close range, however, as the latter is not fitted with an infra-red search and track system.


By Kyle Mizokami

The rivalry between Japan and China over islands in the East China Sea has triggered close encounters between the two sides in the air. Chinese fighters have intercepted Japanese aircraft patrolling the Senkaku Islands (Diaoyu Islands to China), resulting in Japanese fighters being scrambled to intercept.

These aerial encounters in the Western Pacific highlight the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and the Japan Air Self Defense Force. China’s Su-27 and J-11 air superiority fighters are well known to outsiders, as are Japan’s equivalent, the F-15J Eagle.

Less well known are the single-engine multi-role fighters that back up their large, twin-engined cousins. China’s J-10 “Vigorous Dragon”, the first modern Chinese multi-role fighter, was introduced in 2005. An improved variant, the J-10B, has already entered service. Japan’s F-2 multi-role fighter entered service in 2000.

The Mistubishi F-2 fighter is the result of the FSX program, a joint Japanese-American project to develop a multi-role fighter. Both the F/A-18 Hornet and the F-16 Fighting Falcon were proposed as a baseline, with the F-16 eventually winning out. At the time, the FSX program was controversial as many in the U.S. Congress feared transferring advanced fighter technology to Japan.

Officially, the J-10 is the creation of the Chengdu Aircraft Design Group. Unofficially, it too has roots in an American aerospace program. The J-10 bears a striking resemblance to the joint American-Israeli Lavi fighter. Also based on the F-16, the Lavi was eventually canceled due to cost and political concerns. In 1987, the Office of Naval Intelligence stated that China had received Lavi—and thus American—technology, a conclusion shared with Jane’s.

A joint collaboration between Mitsubishi and Lockheed, the F-2 took the basic F-16 design and enlarged it. The aircraft includes a 25% larger wing area, GEF110 engine, and Japan’s J/APG-1, the world’s first active electronic scanning array radar installed on a fighter. It is armed with the Mitsubishi AAM-3 andAAM-5 infra-red guided air-to-air missiles (similar to the AIM-9 Sidewinder) and the AAM-4 radar-guided air-to-air missile (similar to the AIM-7 Sparrow.) The F-2 is also tasked with the anti-invasion mission, and is capable of carrying up to four ASM-2 anti-ship missiles. An M61 20-millimeter gatlinggun rounds out the F-2’s armament.


Despite this, the aircraft is generally regarded as a failure. The per unit cost of the F-2 was a staggering $171 million dollars, more than four times that of anF-16C Block 50/52. Needless to say the F-2 was not four times as effective as the F-16. The lone upshot of the F-2 was the opportunity it gave Japan’s aerospace industry to work on a fighter program.

The J-10 fighter is a delta wing design, powered by Russian-made Saturn-Lyulka AL-31 afterburning turbofan engines. The aircraft is equipped with a Type 1473H pulse-doppler radar, and has 11 hard points for weapons and external fuel tanks. For air to air combat, the J-10 carries PL-9 infra-red guided air-to-air missiles and PL-12 radar guided missiles, and the RussianGSh-23 23-millimeter cannon. It can also carry a variety of laser and satellite-guided bombs.

All of that is very good, but which would win? At 520 miles, the F-2 has a better combat radius than the J-10, which is estimated at 340 miles. Assuming the two planes meet each other operating at equal distances from base, this would give the F-2 pilot slightly more fuel to maneuver and spend on speed. The J-10 also has an older design pulse-doppler radar to the F-2’s more modern AESA radar, so the F-2 would probably detect the J-10 first. The two planes are roughly the same weight, but the F-2 has a slightly better thrust to weight ratio.

All in all, the F-2 has the advantage.

The story doesn’t end there, though. Both countries are upgrading the J-10 and F-2. China has already started production of the J-10B.  The B model features an improved engine, the AL-31FN, with improved thrust and range. Further improvements include a phased-array radar and infra-red search and track (IRST) for short-range air-to-air engagements. Read more

Japan can’t outgun China’s J-20 with F-35A purchase

May 20, 2015


This undated handout file image obtained courtesy of the Joint Strike Fighter program site shows the F-35 fighter jet. (Photo/CFP)


As the US is refusing to sell Japan the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighter, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will have to settle for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II instead, according to an analysis piece posted on Sina’s military news web portal.

The F-35 will still allow the JASDF entry into the stealth fighter club, however. China is likely to respond to the Japanese fighter upgrade with appropriate measures of its own, said the website.

F-35 Overall Analysis

There is already a dearth of articles concerning the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) research and development projects and profiles of the F-35, so the article on the Sina web portal focused on maneuverability, stealth and sensors and electromagnetic interference. From an overall design perspective, the F-35 has a similar conventional aerodynamic configuration to the F-22. Its main wings differ from the delta wing of the medium bomber version of the F-22, in that they take a trapezoid mid-wing configuration, with the back sweep angle of the leading edge of the main wings at 35 degrees and the trailing edge front sweep angle at 15 degrees.

The twin tailfins are canted outward at an angle of 25 degrees. The backsweep angle on the horizontal plane of projection is 35 degrees too. The weapons bay has four pylons and on anti-aircraft missions it typically carries two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and two AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles; when striking ground targets, it typically carries two AIM-120 missiles and two 907 kilogram guided bombs. The F-35 has improved stealth capability in terms of scattering head-on radar; its diverterless suspersonic inlets (DSI) are located on either side of the front of the body of the plane and it has no moving components and the serpentine inlet hides the face of the entire engine.

F-35 Maneuverability

According to an article entitled The Analysis of Aerodynamic and Stealth Characteristic of F-35 Fighter in the Chinese journal Aircraft Design, at subsonic speed, the F-35’s lift coefficient at an angle of attack of 30 degrees and a speed of Mach 0.3 can reach 1.6, while its lift-drag ration at an angle of attack of 5 degrees and a speed of Mach 0.5 can reach a maximum of 16.

As the angle of attack increases, however, the lift-drag ration falls sharply. At an angle of attack of 10 degrees, for example, the lift-drag ratio falls to 8. This is why the F-35 has been able to improve on cruise capabilities at Mach 0.5, useful for long range ground attacks at medium speeds.

However, this optimal cruise speed is a little slow for subsonic air-to-air combat, as even large Boeing passenger planes have a cruise speed of around Mach 0.8. The F-35 is more reliable at a 30 degree angle of attack at subsonic speeds, a major improvement on third-generation aircraft, but because the lift-drag ratio falls rapidly with an increasing angle of attack, the stability of turns for the F-35 is dependent upon a strong engine.

In terms of transonic flow, the lift coefficient of the F-35 is 1.7 at an angle of 35 degrees and a speed of Mach 1.1, the lift-drag ratio at an angle of attack of 5 degrees and a speed of Mach 0.9 can reach a maximum of 8.

Third generation aircraft are designed with transonic maneuverability as a priority, but this is clearly not the F-35’s strong point, even though its maximum lift coefficient approaches the 1.8 of France’s Dassault Rafale. Its lift-drag ratio is poorer, however, as its lift coefficient improves, this explains why the cross-sectional area of the body of the plane is quite large, although the back sweep angle of the wings is smaller, which improves subsonic flight, it also leads to heightened resistance in transonic flight. The maximum angle of attack of the F-35 at transonic speeds is still quite large, however, at a maximum of 35 degrees.

In terms of supersonic flow, the lift coefficient of the F-35 reaches 1.8 at an angle of attack of 35 degrees and a speed of Mach 1.3; while at a 5 degree angle of attack at Mach speed the lift-drag ratio reaches 4, a big gap from the F-22’s supersonic lift-drag ratio of 5.

As the bypass ratio of the Pratt & Whitney F135 afterburning turbofan engine is quite large, its propulsion force at high speeds and high altitudes is lesser, making the F-35 comparable to supersonic third generation fighters, although it can’t match the capabilities of third generation fighters with a canard configuration, and is closer to the capabilities of the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Overall, the F-35 was designed with subsonic maneuverability and long-range subsonic flight in mind, which explains why it is mainly flown in cruise and aimed at launching ground strikes. The F-35 is notable for its maneuverability at all speeds and angles of attack and its stability in making turns at subsonic speeds, making it more agile than third-generation fighters, although it does not perform well at transonic speeds. In sum, the F-35 sees a clear improvement from the F-16 in angle of attack and turning speed, with a slight upgrade in the stability of turns, although its transonic flight capabilities are slightly worse than the stealth version of the F-16. This suggests that it is most suited to be a ground attack aircraft, although it could also be termed a multirole aircraft.

The F-35’s Stealth Capabilities

The plane features the following mechanisms aimed at electromagnetic scattering, listed in order of intensity: corner reflectors, concave resonators, polished surface reflection and knife-edge diffraction, surface backscatter, creeping wave diffraction, second-order and multiple scattering, as well as discontinuous surface scattering.

The corner reflectors between the fuselage and the wings, the vertical tailfins and the horizontal stabilizers and between the external pylons, as well as the concave shape of the nose-mounted Electro-Optical Targeting System, the cockpit and the air inlets also prove very effective in reducing the craft’s radar cross-section (RCS), at around 10-0 decibels, which corresponds to over 10 square meters to under 10 square meters in (RCS). The diffraction and scattering caused by sharp edges and lines on the plane have less of a contribution, at around 0 or -30 decibels, which corresponds to an RCS of one thousandth of a square meter.

The F-35 is equipped with an AN/APG-81 Active electronically scanned array-radar. The radar array face upwards at a slight angle, which reflects incoming radar waves that enter the radar housing away from the receiver. The serpentine air inlets and DSI covers the entire front of the engine and the cockpit is plated with metal to reflect incoming radar, preventing it from entering the cockpit, resulting in scattering; The internal weapons bay prevents reflection between external equipment held on pylons; the leading edges of the wing, the horizontal tail stabilizers and the vertical tailfins are all parallel, as are the trailing edges of the main wing, the horizontal tail stabilizers and the vertical tailfins, which aids in scattering; the surface of the body of the plane employs a sawtooth design, sending creeping wave away from the receiver.

Currently the F-22’s head-on RCS is between -20 and -30 decibels, or one hundredth to one thousandth of a square meter. Due to the sensors embedded in the body of the F-35, it has limited ability to scatter creeping waves. Taking all of this into account, the face-on RCS of the F-35 is likely between -10 and -20 decibels, or between one tenth and one hundredth of a square meter. This means that the F-35 can cut down the distance at which it can be detected by radar from 100 km to 20-40 km.

The F-35’s Radar and Electromagnetic Interference Abilities

As mentioned above, the F-35 is equipped with an AN/APG-81 Active electronically scanned array-radar, which has strong detection capabilities as well as a multi-function integrated radio frequency system (MIRFS), which can carry out electromagnetic interference, facilitate communications and identify targets.

The F-22 is equipped with the AN/APG-77 low probability of intercept radar, composed of 2,200 transmit/receive modules, each with power of around 10 Watts, giving it peak power of 22 kiloWatts. When operating with a duty cycle of 25%, it operates at around 5 kW. Due to the small size of the nose of the craft, the APG-81 radar has less components than the APG-77, although there is currently no concrete figure, it is likely around 1,200, giving it peak power of 12 kW and average power of around 2 kW.

Currently the APG-81 can detect targets of 10 sq m from a distance of around 250 km. If the head-on RCS of the Chengdu J-20 is to be around the same as the F-22, at between -20 and -30 decibels, then the APG-81 could detect it at a distance of 20-40 km. The F-35 is also equipped with a photoelectric sensor, the range and resolution of which is unclear, but likely of higher quality than the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) installed in US third-generation fighters.

The fire-control radar on board third-generation fighters have no electronic interference capabilities, so an on board electronic jammer has to be used on board. As there is little space for an antenna and a high-frequency transmitter, this falls short of fire-control radar by a long shot, whereas the APG-81 uses the long range radar itself to engage in electronic interference. As the APG-81 has average power of 2 kW for interference, it beats the radar on board the third-generation fighter, at just several hundred Watts, right out of the water. At long-ranges the radar on third generation fighters is left only with its goniometric function, losing the ability to measure distance at all. This, in turn, leads to a loss of target tracking capabilities and its ability to visually simulate attack, which renders it ineffective.

East Asia Disputes: Threats and Countermeasures

Before 2016, the JSF may only be able to buy a few pre-production versions of the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant of the F-35, the F-35A, to engage in flight tests and will likely only receive the final version of the F-35A a few years down the line. Countries are cooperating in the manufacturing and testing stage of the F-35’s development in different ways. The UK agreed to invest funds of 10% or US$2 billion, under the JAST (now JSF) program office, which grants it priority access to F-35 equipment. The second way is through an investment of 5% or US$1 billion, through which Italy and the Netherlands are participating in the project.

The third way is as a mid-ranking representative, under which participant countries can only make demands for custom details and invest funds of 1% or US$200-400 million. Countries who have chosen to participate in this way included Turkey, Canada and Australia. Later two more categories of participation were added.

Those in the fourth category have to pay at least US$75 million. There are 12 potential countries that may sign up for this. Israel is the only country in the fifth category, under which it needs to pay US$2 million to access data on the F-35 project. Given the above division of categories, Japan will only be able to take part in the project under the fourth category, which means that at least eight countries will have priority in buying the F-35 aircraft and equipment before Japan.

In addition to this, Japan is only buying around 40 F-35A fighters, a relatively small order, which makes it unlikely that it will get quick delivery on its order, compared to those willing to order more. Japan will likely get permission to assemble the F-35A after 2020, which means that the finished aircraft will come off the production line a lot later. Whether or not Japan is granted the right to assemble also depends on Japan’s finances and on the stability in the country’s relationship with the US.

Given the time frame for Japan’s potential purchase of the F-35A aircraft and Japan’s announcement of a project to develop its JASDF, by around 2025, the JASDF will likely have the following equipment and weapons systems: six E-767 early warning aircraft, around 40 F-35A fighters, around 100 upgraded Mitsubishi F-15J/DJ Eagle fighters and 150 Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighters. Japan’s air defense zones are divided into three areas, north, central and west.

The north zone is aimed at defending against aircraft from Russia; the west zone is aimed at defending against aircraft from China, while the central zone gives Japan strategic flexibility in deployments. This means it is likely that the F-35A fighters will be divided into two squadrons, with 20 being deployed to the west air defense zone and 20 being deployed to the north air defense zone. Two F-15J fighters and one F-2 from the central air defense zone will likely be deployed to the west and north air defense zones, while the rest of the aircraft will serve as strategic reserves in the central defense zone. This will mean that Japan will have fallen far from its title as the No. 1 air force in Asia that it proclaimed in the 1990s.

Although the JASDF will not be a strategic deterrent for China once it is equipped with the F-35A fighter, the addition of the plane will still have an effect on the Chinese air force and on its strategic anti-aircraft defense systems. The foremost threat it poses is its stealth capabilities, which represent a revolutionary upgrade from third-generation fighters and will shake up the early warning and sensor systems of air combat. The F-35A reduces the RCS of third-generation fighters from several dozen sq m to just one tenth to one hundredth of a sq m, which is enough to half the distance at which it can be detected by radar.

This puts pressure on Chinese early warning craft to increase their coverage to prevent the F-35A making use of blind spots. It also demands a much more concentrated deployment of anti-aircraft weapon systems or an upgrade to their anti-stealth capabilities. Chinese air force formations will also have to adjust their formations, as although the F-35 hasn’t substantially improved on the maneuverability of third-generation fighters, the F-35A has a tactical advantage over Chinese third-generation fighters, due to its ability to see the battlefield more clearly.

This means that the PLA Air Force will have to put fourth-generation J-20 fighters to the front of formations, in order to discover the F-35A fighters as soon as possible. These J-20 fighters can then intercept the F-35 fighters and push them out of Chinese airspace. Given the severe drop in RCS with fourth-generation fighters, adding concentrated deployment of early warning aircraft and radar is a bottomless pit, as no country has been able to make up for the shortfall in their early warning and anti-aircraft defense systems. The only effective means of dealing with this state of affairs is to develop a fourth-generation fighter with similar capabilities, posing an equal threat to the enemy.

China's newest warplane, the J-20 stealth fighter, made its first public flight at an airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai. It bears an uncanny resemblance to US military's F-22 Raptor

China’s newest warplane, the J-20 stealth fighter, made its first public flight at an airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai. It bears an uncanny resemblance to US military’s F-22 Raptor

The J-20 has already undergone several test-flights, suggesting that China’s fourth-generation fighter is almost complete and is on the brink of entering the manufacturing stage. After the final version of the plane is fixed and undergoes test-flights, manufacturing can begin, which means the J-20 will be deployed by 2017 at the earliest and by 2019 at the latest.

If the J-20 is manufactured at the rate of one regiment per year, then by 2025, 5-7 regiments will be equipped, with around 120-170 planes, which makes up around two air force divisions. The US only has 187 F-22 fighters. With China’s J-20 fighters in development, as well as the sheer numbers of third-generation fighters, forming its main strategic combat force, along with early warning aircraft, electromagnetic interference systems and airborne warning and control systems, China will have a clear advantage over Japan in any potential air battle.

If the J-20 is equipped with China’s fourth generation active electronically scanned array radar, and this equals the APG-77 with which the F-22 is equipped, the aircraft will be able to detect an F-35A head on at a distance of 50 km, whereas a F-35A will only be able to detect a J-20 head on at a distance of 20-40 km, giving the J-20 the advantage. The J-20 has similar capabilities to the F-22, including supercruise, electronic countermeasures (ECM) and supermaneuverability, giving it an advantage over the F-35A under all battle conditions.

Editors Note: Want China Times no longer publishes this kind of article.


Japan, China Territorial Tensions Rising Over Unmanned Drones

October 31, 2013
FILE - An unidentified plane flies near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the air over the East China Sea, in this handout photo taken by Japan Air Self-Defense Force.


FILE – An unidentified plane flies near disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, in the air over the East China Sea, in this handout photo taken by Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
Daniel Schearf
October 31, 2013
SEOUL — The long-running territorial dispute between China and Japan over a remote group of islands is in the spotlight this week as the two countries conduct massive military exercises. Analysts warn the drills and China’s increased use of drone aircraft in the region raise the risk of an unintended confrontation.
Japan on Friday begins a week of live-fire military drills involving 34,000 troops, navy destroyers, jet fighters and amphibious assault vehicles.
The exercises include operations to defend remote islands from attack and come as Tokyo and Beijing are testing each other in a war of words over the disputed Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu in China.   Japanese media report Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month approved a plan to shoot down any foreign drones that refuse to leave Japan’s airspace.
Kyodo news agency reports Abe decided on the tough policy in response to China’s flying a drone in September near the islands.
China’s  Wing Loong drone, closely modeled on the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, on display at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai. Photo: Courtesy David Cenciotti
Although not yet officially confirmed, Japan has for months been considering the measure to protect the waters surrounding the Japan-administered islands.
China’s military spokesman said an attack on its aircraft would be considered an act of war and that it would strike back.
Rory Medcalf, the director of the international security program at Sydney’s Lowey Institute, said China’s introduction of drones into the dispute, and pledge to defend them, has made the situation more unpredictable.
“So, the Chinese have kind of put Japan into an awkward position.  If it lets them pass, or if it lets them fly over disputed, contested airspace then China is further establishing its presence there,” he said. “But, if Japan strikes back, then it’s really escalating tensions potentially towards conflict.”
Beijing has been aggressively developing its unmanned aerial vehicles and last year unveiled armed attack drones that appeared to be modeled on U.S. versions.
China’s Foreign Ministry played down its military’s talk of war by implying Japan was hyping the situation in order to build up its defenses.
Japan’s neighbors, who suffered from its World War II aggression, are wary of plans by Tokyo to increase the military operations allowed under its pacifist constitution.
But China is the one asserting its power in the region and testing Japan’s defense of the islands. Beijing sends weekly, and sometimes daily, patrols of ships and jet fighters near the islands, forcing Japan to respond by scrambling its own jets.
Abe this week said Japan would not tolerate any use of force by China to change the status quo.
Beijing responded by calling Japanese politicians “arrogant” and “self-deceiving” over the dispute.
“The real problem isn’t really so much the war of words, it is that the jet scrambling and fleets navigating in the disputed area, there could be a miscalculation with serious consequences,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan’s Temple University.
China’s official Xinhua news agency this month revealed Chinese nuclear submarines are being sent on regular sea patrols. Chinese destroyers earlier this year for the first time sailed the strait between Russia and Japan, raising eyebrows in Tokyo.
Japan’s exercises begin as China finishes up its own military exercises. China’s navy earlier this month began weeks of drills in the West Pacific with, for the first time, all three of its navy fleets.  Xinhua reports the exercises are aimed at improving combat abilities on the high seas.
Medcalf said the coinciding exercises could also help the two sides release some steam and prevent more threatening posturing.  But he said Japan-China hostility is not likely to cool down any time soon.
“Tension is becoming the new normal in relations between China and Japan.  And, the best we can probably hope for is that they find informal ways of managing this, informal ways of their navies and their maritime forces really signaling to one another or keeping out of each others way,” Medcalf said. “It’s possible that over the next, I guess, ten to twenty years they will work this out and perhaps reach some new political understandings.  The danger zone will be, I think, in the next few years before they reach these new levels of understanding.”
Medcalf said one positive step would be if the countries establish operational hotlines between their forces to prevent unintentional confrontations from turning into a bigger conflict.
Japan says China’s recent introduction of drones is a provocation and has responded by scrambling manned (and armed) jet fighters.
China and Japan have been playing an endless cat and mouse game at sea in the vicinity of Senkaku (in Japanese) and Diaoyu (the Chinese name) islands in the East China sea. Vast oil wealth is believed to be beneath the sea floor near here.


Graphic above shows the area in dispute between China and Japan

Map of South China Sea

China has claimed much of the South China Sea for itself —  claims that have upset many in the region, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. A huge wealth of untapped oil is believed to be below the sea here.

Above: China says it has sovereignty over all inside the “Nine Dash Line” as seen here.