544 of the 555 sorties were conducted to intercept Russian and Chinese aircraft. Japanese MoD’s figures for 2023 show a decrease in sorties against Chinese aircraft from 462 to 392 and an increase for Russian aircraft from 133 to 148 compared to 2022 figures.
The majority of the Chinese aircraft flew near Taiwan and the southwest airspace of Japan. Russian bombers mostly flew in proximity to the northern airspace of Japan. In addition to fighters and bombers, UAVs were among the intercepted flights.
Additionally, China and Russia made joint flights with their bomber aircraft. Both countries have a fleet of strategic bomber aircraft focused on carrying long-range cruise missiles. This approach is designed for China bordering the Pacific Ocean, so China views most of its bombers as naval deterrents. Chinese bomber fleet consists of Xi’an H-6 series of bombers based on the Russian Tu-16 bomber.
Japanese Joint Staff Office (JSO) made another statement regarding the Russian and Chinese navies’ activity near the Japanese islands. Chinese Dongdiao-class intelligence ship Tianshuxing was spotted 31 miles from Yokoate-Jima Island; Russian Navy cruiser RFS Varyag destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov was spotted 50 miles from Tsushima Island.
Despite the decrease in interceptions of Chinese flights, the authorities consider the figures high.