The Transformation of the JASDF's Intelligence and Surveillance Capabilities for Air and Missile Defence

Desmond Ball, Richard Tanter

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Over the past decade, the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) has undergone an extraordinary transformation with respect to the intelligence and surveillance elements of its air and missile defence capabilities. Advanced sorts of ground-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) and radar systems have been developed and are mostly now operational around the country. Older systems have been extensively upgraded. All of the air intelligence and radar systems have been thoroughly integrated into a single complex, with the radar systems comprehensively networked, and the electronic intelligence (ELINT) collection, early-warning, and aircraft and missile tracking activities coordinated and the intelligence products correlated at several levels. Moreover, the HQ of the JASDF‟s Air Defence Command has now moved to the HQ of US Forces Japan at Yokota Air Base, providing it with direct access to the US space-based missile launch detection system as well as other US missile defence assets. Many of the new facilities are clearly situated to monitor electronic activity in North Korea and to track North Korean long- range ballistic missiles that might be aimed at or pass over Japanese territory. Others, now emplaced on Okinawa and elsewhere down the Ryukyu Island chain, are part of broader efforts by Japan to expand its collection of electromagnetic signals emanating from China and to strengthen its defences against China‟s modernising air, maritime and missile forces. The new capabilities should provide Japan with the ability to detect, track and intercept relatively small numbers of long-range (including nuclear-armed) missiles, such as North Korea could launch, with a high degree of confidence. In the case of China, the initial priority is to complete ELINT and radar coverage of Chinese air activities around the islands south of Okinawa. Against Chinese strategic nuclear forces, equipped with a wide array of delivery systems, the situation remains problematic.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-56
    JournalSecurity Challenges
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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