JDF JapanDefenseFocus No.85

ACTIVITIES

Operation Christmas Drop
~Japan-U.S.-Australia Joint Training for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the Federated States of Micronesia and other Countries~

Operation Christmas Drop

At the invitation of the PACAF Commander, the ASDF had dispatched 22 personnel and one C-130H aircraft to Guam and other islands from December 2nd to 10th to take part in Operation Christmas Drop, the trilateral HA/DR exercise in the Federated States of Micronesia involving Japan, the United States and Australia.

Since its inception 65 years ago in 1952, Operation Christmas Drop has become one of the longest running training exercises in the world. It is held around Christmas time and involves air dropping supplies to people in need living on remote islands in the Federated States of Micronesia and others. ASDF aircraft were dispatched for the first time in 2015, and the ASDF participated together with the U.S. Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force in 2016. Service members from the U.S. and Australian air forces boarded the ASDF C-130H to jointly take part in the air drop together with ASDF personnel.

In this training exercise, transport aircraft from Japan, the United States and Australia took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam and dropped supplies over remote islands in the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, and Mariana Islands. The supplies included medical supplies, food, stationery and toys and other items, donated from the U.S. Air Force and various private sector philanthropic organizations.

This training exercise is held as practice for similar air drops of relief supplies during international disaster relief operations. This training exercise, which was conducted with the cooperation of many private-sector philanthropic organizations and made the best use of the transport capabilities of military transport aircraft, is a very meaningful program as a way to train for Civil Military cooperation. Major Takahashi, in the 1st Tactical Airlift Wing, who participated in Operation Christmas Drop, said, “Close coordination with the U.S. and Australian air forces and related institutions is essential to dropping supplies safely and accurately. It was very meaningful and I feel a strong sense of pride in contribution to helping deepening trilateral relations by participating in this humanitarian assistance training that has been implemented by the United States for the past 65 years.”

The ASDF’s C-130H flew in the skies of Micronesia with hope in the crew’s mind that the early Christmas presents from the Santa Clauses aboard the sleigh that was the transport aircraft would bring smiles, even if faintly, to the faces of the people on the islands.

Operation Christmas Drop
Operation Christmas Drop
Operation Christmas Drop
Operation Christmas Drop
Operation Christmas Drop
Operation Christmas Drop

FY2016 Japan-U.S. Bilateral Command Post Training Exercise Yama Sakura (YS 71)

FY2016 Japan-U.S. Bilateral Command Post Training Exercise Yama Sakura (YS 71)

From November 30th to December 13th, the 2016 Japan-U.S. bilateral command post training exercise called Yama Sakura (YS 71) was held at GSDF Camp Kengun and other locations.

From the Japan side, approx. 5,000 personnel from the GSDF Western Army and Ground Staff Office and other units, took part. From the United States side, approx. 1,600 service members participated from I Corps (Washington State) and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Okinawa) and other units.

This training was conducted as a command and stuff activity for joint operation along with each chain of command among GSDF and U.S. Army units smaller than army-level in size, in order to maintain and improve such capability.

FY2016 Japan-U.S. Bilateral Command Post Training Exercise Yama Sakura (YS 71)
FY2016 Japan-U.S. Bilateral Command Post Training Exercise Yama Sakura (YS 71)

Measures against Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden through the Third Quarter of FY2016

Measures against Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden through the Third Quarter of FY2016

Following data shows the records of the measures against piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden from October through December, 2016.

Aerial Activities of P-3C Patrol Aircraft off the Coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden
Record of Mission (October through December, 2016)

1. Number of flights: 60 flights (Accumulated Total(AT): 1,708 flights)

2. Flight hours: Approx. 440 hours (AT: Approx. 13,110 hours)

3. Number of visually confirmed commercial ships: Approx. 5,100 ships (AT: Approx. 142,100ships)

4. Number of times of information sharing to Japanese destroyers, foreign warships, and/or commercial ships: Approx. 190 times (AT: Approx. 12,470 times)

Escort Operations Performed by MSDF Units in the Same Area
Record of Mission (October through December, 2016)

1. Number of escort operations: 17 times (The 712th – 728th escort operation under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Measures Law)

2. Number of escorted vessels: 23 vessels (AT 3,754 of escorted vessels since the start of operations under Japan’s Anti-Piracy Measures Law)

[Breakdown]

Japanese-registered ships: 0 (AT: 17 )

Foreign ships operated by Japanese shipping companies: 2 (AT: 670)

Foreign ships other than above: 21 (AT: 3,067)

*The above record does not include the 1st - 41st escort operation performed as Maritime Security Activities.

Zone Defense Performed in the Same Area
Record of Mission (October through December, 2016)

1. Number of days: 74 (AT: 891days)

2. Number of commercial vessels confirmed: Approx. 110 (AT: 13,600 vessels)

Status of Scrambles through First Three Quarters of FY2016

Status of Scrambles through First Three Quarters of FY2016

The ASDF scrambled 883 times through first three quarters of FY2016, which marked a significant increase of 316 times compared to the same period of the previous year. The breakdown of scrambles by countries and regions was about 73% against Chinese aircraft, about 26% against Russian aircraft, and 1% against other aircraft although the countries and regions include supposition.

Characteristics of Responses through First Three Quarters of FY2016

The ASDF scrambled 644 times against Chinese aircraft in total, a significant increase of 271 times compared to the same period of the previous year. Also, during the third quarter, the MOD publicized 11 cases as unusual flights, including long-distance flight from the East China Sea to the Pacific Ocean.

The ASDF scrambled 231 times against Russian aircraft in total, an increase of 48 times compared to the same period of the previous year. During the third quarter, the MOD publicized two cases as unusual flights, including flight around the territorial airspace over the Senkaku Islands.

Scrambles against Chinese fighter aircraft and Russian intelligence gathering aircraft were outstanding in frequency compared to other types of aircraft of each country, although this includes estimation.

The period of this data is from April 1st, 2016, to December 31st, 2016.

Flight of Chinese Aircraft over the East China Sea (December 10th, 2016)

The Ministry of Defense of Japan (MOD) confirmed that in the morning of December 10th through around noon, several Chinese military aircraft—two H-6 bombers, two SU-30 fighters, one TU-154 intelligence-gathering aircraft and one Y-8 intelligence-gathering aircraft—coming from the East China Sea flew over waters between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island to the Pacific Ocean.

On the same day, the Chinese Ministry of National Defense announced that the SDF scrambled to interfere with Chinese military aircraft from close range and launch jamming shells, which endangered the safety of Chinese aircraft and crew. (1)

However, the Japanese F-15 fighters that implemented the scrambling against those aircraft intruding into territorial airspace were checking the situation of the Chinese military aircraft and keeping surveillance on their activities in accordance with strict procedures based on international law and the SDF Act. Baseless are both of the Chinese allegation that the SDF aircraft interfered with the Chinese military aircraft from close range, and the allegation that the SDF aircraft endangered the safety of the Chinese aircraft and crew by the close range interference and launching jamming shells.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense’s unilateral announcement concerning those allegations that is not true at all is extremely regrettable, which it undermines the improvement of the relationship between Japan and China.

Footnote (1): This is provisional translation. Original version is in Chinese.

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