Air Warfare

Singapore Airshow 2020: Japan to form an ‘aerospace’ force

5th February 2020 - 07:00 GMT | by Koji Miyake in Tokyo

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The Japanese government is to change the name of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) to the Japan Aerospace Self-Defense Force as early as Fiscal Year 2021.

The renamed JASDF will be tasked with defending airspace to an altitude over 100km high.

Japan is adding a space element to the JASDF because the MoD has been operating six Information Gathering Satellites (IGS) and two X-band communications satellites, and it will start operating an artificial satellite with two-wavelength infrared sensors.

Due to an increasing reliance on space, satellite defence has become a serious issue. Killer satellites and potential interference from Chinese and Russian lasers raised fears about the JASDF’s utilisation of space. Correspondingly, the Japanese government will add these new responsibilities onto the JASDF.

The US established its Space Command that has 16,000 personnel in December 2019. The JASDF will start with a considerably smaller unit than that, however, with a current space unit of about 20 personnel and increasing to 120 to commence space monitoring in 2023.

The JASDF will launch a satellite able to monitor foreign satellites in 2026. The MoD will devote 30% of personnel of the current JASDF to space-related tasks in the future. The MoD will achieve personnel reductions by conducting more unmanned surveillance activities and transferring personnel to space-related tasks.

Mitsubishi Electric is a prime manufacturer of the IGS and space monitoring sensor system, but it announced on 20 January that confidential company information may have been stolen after a cyber attack. These attacks could have started in June 2019 or earlier, and dozens of computers/servers could have been hacked.

Mitsubishi Electric said confidential information relating to the MoD was not leaked, but this has not yet been proved.

Indeed, the battle for cyberspace has already started prior to future ‘star wars’, but with this type of cyberattack, some warn that Japan has already been defeated at the very beginning of the battle. 

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