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Japan’s Self-Defense Forces to develop electronic attack aircraft to disrupt enemy radar and communications

  • January 13, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 3:49 p.m.
  • English Press

The government has decided to develop electronic attack aircraft that disable enemy radar and communications by equipping Self-Defense Forces’ transport and patrol planes with powerful jamming equipment, multiple government sources said.


The goal is to counter China and Russia, both of which are increasing their electronic warfare capabilities (see below).


The plan to develop electronic attack aircraft is in line with the National Defense Program Guidelines, which stipulate the reinforcement of Japan’s capabilities to “neutralize radar, communications, and other means of counterparts intending to invade [Japan].” The guidelines were approved by the Cabinet in December. The SDF plans to begin the full-fledged development process next fiscal year.


Specifically, the Air Self-Defense Force’s C-2 transport plane and the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s P-1 patrol plane would be equipped with jamming equipment, sources said.


The goal is to introduce models based on the C-2 in fiscal 2027, while the development schedule and other plans for the P-1 are still being considered.


The P-1’s steering control system uses optical fibers that are not affected by jamming beams, which should give it greater electronic attack abilities compared with other aircraft that use electrical signals.


SDF warships and aircraft already have electronic warfare equipment, but the emphasis has been on defensive aspects, such as the ability to divert missile attacks using jamming beams.


The development of electronic attack aircraft, on the other hand, is intended to disable the attack capabilities of enemy aircraft, warships and other forces by sending out jamming beams over a wide area to incapacitate their communications networks and radars.


The government has decided to develop electronic attack aircraft against a backdrop of China’s and Russia’s rapid improvements of their electronic warfare capabilities.


When Russia annexed Crimea in southern Ukraine in 2014, it is said that the Ukrainian military’s communications and munitions with electronically controlled detonators were disabled by Russian electronic attacks. The Chinese government has installed jamming equipment on the military bases it is building on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.


The ability to identify the frequencies of a counterpart’s radio waves is an essential part of electronic attacks, so the government also plans to enhance the SDF’s ability to gather radio wave information, the sources said.

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