Friday, February 23, 2007

Noted With Interest

The US is sending F-22s to Japan; there is talk that Japan may be the first ally to whom we sell the plane.

Who will the F-22s be intercepting? Russians:

Although somewhat historic, data compiled by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force shows that in the first part of the fiscal year, there’s been a lot of activity to keep air-to-air interceptors busy. In the six months ending September 30 – Japan’s fiscal year starts in April – the Japanese air force had to scramble 149 aircraft to patrol its skies because of potentially hostile intruders.

What’s particularly interesting, and maybe reflective of a geopolitical shift in the region, is the source of most of those transgressions: Russia.

Russia has historically been the largest source of responses, but the scale of activity in those six months is notable. The figure is almost 20% higher than the number of times Japan’s air force had to take to the air to deal with Russian aircraft during the entire 2005 fiscal year.

By contrast, encounters between Japan and its other large neighbor, China, are on a major downturn and headed to more traditional, low levels. In 2005, Japan scrambled aircraft 107 times to deal with Chinese flights. That was a spike from the modest number of incidents in 2003 and 2004.

I wonder if this means anything - and if so, what?

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