JASDF surveillance unit deployed to Naha

A unit operating early warning aircraft has been assigned to the Air Self-Defense Force Naha Air Base to bolster surveillance capabilities over Japan’s southwestern islands, including the disputed Senkaku group in the East China Sea.

The unit operates four E-2C early warning aircraft and they were moved to Naha from Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture. The unit has been deployed to Naha only on a rotational basis until now.

“The number of scrambles against Chinese aircraft has quadrupled over the past four years,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters after the ceremony at the base on Sunday commemorating the unit’s establishment. “This will help us to implement an effective early warning surveillance system.”

The unit consists of about 130 JADF members who, along with their families are moving to Okinwa with their unit.