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Japan Air Self Defence Force - Organization

The National Defense Program Outline which determines Japan's defense capabilities, was reviewed and newly established in December 1995. Aircraft Warning and Control system would be made more efficient and functional: for instance, as regards the aircraft warning and control units at radar sites throughout the country, 20 aircraft control and warning groups out of 28 were reorganized into the warning squadrons while the AWACS aircraft shall be introduced. One squadron of the fighter units was disbanded, with the remaining 12 fighter squadrons forming a more efficient and flexible system.

The Air Self-Defense Force possessed 28 fixed ground radar sites in 28 locations throughout the nation in conformity with its geographical characteristics so that it can maintain vigilance and surveillance throughout Japanese airspace on a continuous basis. Thus, the ASDF possessed 28 groups of aircraft control and warning units. In addition, since there is a limit to the surveillance and detection capability of fixed ground radar sites against aircraft intruding at low altitude, the ASDF has also possessed one airborne early-warning squadron to engage in early-warning missions against aircraft intruding at low altitude.

Under the 1995 Outline, however, the ASDF reorganized 20 of the 28 early-warning groups into smaller early-warning squadrons by enhancing the efficiency of control and warning mission considering the introduction of AWACS (airborne warning and control system) aircraft. Thus the ASDF will now possess eight early-warning groups and 20 early-warning squadrons. In addition, one squadron of airborne early-warning aircraft will be maintained in order to supplement the limited capability of fixed ground radar against aircraft intruding at low altitude, and to maintain early-warning capabilities over ocean areas remote from the mainland.

Under the 1976 Outline, the ASDF had possessed 13 fighter squadrons in order to maintain constant and continuous capability for scrambles and other appropriate responses against violations of territorial airspace and air incursions, in conformity to Japan's geographical characteristics. This posture was based on the idea that, while a total of 14 fighter squadrons -- two each in seven districts throughout the nation -- are needed, one squadron larger in size than other squadrons can be assigned to the district over Southwestern Islands.

In view of the end of the Cold War, however, partial reductions in the posture of the ASDF was considered to be possible. Accordingly, under the new structure, the ASDF reduce one fighter squadron and possess a total of 12 fighter squadrons.

The 12 fighter squadrons consisted of nine interceptor units and three support fighter units. The main mission of interceptor units is to intercept intruding aircraft, while that of support fighter units is to counter landing invasions, and to support from the air the GSDF and MSDF units fighting against invading forces as necessary.

The ground-to-air missile units of the ASDF counter air invasion together with the fighter squadrons. The ASDF maintained six ground-to-air missile groups for the air defense of each area of political, economic and strategic importance - the central part of Hokkaido, area around Tsugaru Strait, Kanto district, Keihanshin district, northern part of Kyushu, and Okinawa.

The ASDF must possess air reconnaissance and air transport units in order to provide effective support for air operations through air reconnaissance and air transport operations as necessary. The ASDF maintained one air reconnaissance squadron to engage in air reconnaissance in case of aggression and other eventualities. At the same time, the ASDF will continue to possess three air transport squadrons to support mobile operations of fighter units and parachute operations of airborne units, as necessary, and to engage in transportation between main bases in peacetime.

By 2003 the JASDF was organized into seven combat wings and various smaller groups and composite units. Five commands administer the JASDF and provide support in research and development (R&D), training and product improvement. Strategic air defense was the responsibility of the JASDF, which has six air defense missile groups (with 24 operational squadrons) and an air base air defense group with anti-aircraft artillery and man portable surface-to-air missiles (SAMs).

Subsequently, the number of interceptor squadrons was reduced from 10 to nine, with a corresponding cut in airframes by approximately 30 units. The three strike squadrons remained; there was one reconnaissance unit and three air transport squadrons. Non-interceptor combat aircraft strength was reduced by about 50.

In 1987 the Japanese government formed its own air operations branch to allow for the exclusive use of long-range and other specialist aircraft by the Royal Family, government members and senior officials. Command of the aircraft was passed from the Prime Ministers Office in April 1992 to the Special Airlift Group at Chitose Air Base. The longest-range aircraft available is a Boeing 747-400, of which there are two in service. Other aircraft flown include three EH Industries EH 101 helicopters, the first of which was delivered in 1999.




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