About Geoffrey Clark

Geoffrey Clark is a data modeler, database architect and business analyst primarily in the supply chain, transportation and logistics industries. He is an avid war gamer and budding defense analyst. Lucidata Informatics provides database design services, as well as data products, deployment and update services.

The Cold War Roots of the Integrated U.S./Japan/NATO Air Defense Network

Continental U.S. Air Defense Identifications Zones [MIT Lincoln Laboratory]

My last post detailed how the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 prompted the U.S. to undertake emergency efforts to bolster its continental air defenses, including the concept of the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). This post will trace the development of this network and its gradual integration with those of Japan and NATO.

In the early 1950s, U.S. continental air defense, designated the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment air defense system or SAGE, resembled a scaled-up version of the Dowding System, pioneered by Great Britain as it faced air attack by the Luftwaffe in 1940. SAGE was initially a rudimentary and analog affair:

The permanent network depended on each radar site to perform GCI [Ground Control & Intercept] functions or pass information to a nearby GCI center. For example, information gathered by North Truro Air Force Station on Cape Cod was transmitted via three dedicated land lines to the GCI center at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, and then on to the ADC Headquarters at Ent AFB, Colorado. The facility at Otis AFB was a regional information clearinghouse that integrated the data from North Truro and other regional radar stations, Navy picket ships, and the all-volunteer GOC [Ground Observer Corps]. The clearinghouse operation was labor intensive. The data had to be manually copied onto Plexiglas plotting boards. The ground controllers used this data to direct defensive fighters to their targets. It was a slow and cumbersome process, fraught with difficulties. Engagement information was passed on to command headquarters by telephone and teletype. At Ent AFB, the information received from the regional clearinghouses was then passed on to enlisted airmen standing on scaffolds behind the world’s largest Plexiglas board. Using grease pencils, these airmen etched the progress of enemy bombers onto the back of the Plexiglas board so that air defense commanders could evaluate and respond. This arrangement impeded rapid response to the air battle.

It is hard to imagine an air defense challenge of the magnitude that potentially faced the U.S. and USSR by 1955. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber fleet peaked at over 2,500 in 1955-1965, with 2,000 B-47s (range of 2,013 statute miles) and 750 B-52s (range of 4,480 statute miles). The range of U.S. bombers was extended considerably by the ~800 KC-135 aerial re-fueling tanker aircraft fleet as well.

In spite of the much publicized “bomber gap,” taking Soviet production numbers (and liberally adding aircraft of shorter range or unavailable until 1962…) produces an approximate estimate for a Soviet bombing fleet:

  • M-4 “Bison” (range of 3480 statute miles) = 93
  • Tu-16 “Badger” (range of 3888 statute miles) = 1507
  • Tu-22 “Blinder” (range of 3000 statute miles) = 250-300
  • Tu-95 “Bear” (range of 9400 statute miles) = 300+

That gave the U.S. an advantage in bombers of 2,750 to ~2,200 over the Soviets. Now, imagine this air battle being conducted with manual tracking on plexiglass with grease pencils…untenable!

Air Defense and Modern Computing

However, the problem proved amenable to solutions provided by the pending computer revolution.

At the Lincoln Laboratory development continued on an automated command and control system centered around the 250-ton Whirlwind II (AN/FSQ-7) computer. Containing some 49,000 vacuum tubes, the Whirlwind II became a central component of the SAGE system. SAGE, a system of analog computer-equipped direction centers, processed information from ground radars, picket ships, early-warning aircraft, and ground observers onto a generated radarscope to create a composite picture of the emerging air battle. Gone were the Plexiglas TM boards and teletype reports. Having an instantaneous view of the air picture over North America, defense commanders would be able to quickly evaluate the threats and effectively deploy interceptors and missiles to meet the threat.

The SAGE system was continually upgraded through the mid-to-late 1950s.

By 1954, with several more radars in the northeast providing data, the Cambridge control center (a prototype SAGE center) gained experience in directing F-86D interceptors against B-47 bombers performing mock raids. Still much development, research, and testing lay ahead. Bringing together long-range radar, communications, microwave electronics, and digital computer technologies required the largest research and development effort since the Manhattan Project. During its first ten years, the government spent $8 billion to develop and deploy SAGE. By 1958, Lincoln Laboratory had a professional staff of 720 with an annual budget of $22.5 million, to conduct SAGE-related work. The contract with IBM to build sixty production models of the Whirlwind II at $30 million each provided about half of the corporation’s revenues for the 1950s and exposed the corporation to technologies that it would use in the 1960s to dominate the computer industry. In the meantime, scientists and electronic engineers in the defense industry strove to install better radars and make these radars invulnerable to electronic countermeasures (ECM), commonly called jamming.

The SAGE development effort became one of the foundations of modern computing, giving IBM the technological capability to dominate for several decades, until it outsourced two key components: hardware to Intel and software to a young Microsoft, both of which became behemoths of the internet age. It is also estimated that this effort brought a price tag which exceeded that of the Manhattan Project. SAGE also transformed the attitude of the USAF towards technology and computerization.

Current Air Defense Networks

In the 1950s and 60s, the U.S. continental air defense network gradually began to expand geographically and integrate with NADGE and JADGE air defense networks of its NATO allies and Japan.

NATO Air Defense Ground Environment (NADGE): This was approved by NATO in December 1955, and became operational in 1962 with 18 radar stations. This eventually grew to 84 stations and provided an inter-connected network from Norway to Turkey before being superseded by the NATO Integrated Air Defense System (NATINADS) in 1972. NATINADS was further upgraded in the 1980s to include data from the E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft (AEGIS (Airborne Early-warning/Ground Environment Integrated Segment); not to be confused with the USN system with the same acronym.)

Base Air Defense Ground Environment (BADGE): This was the automated system, in the same fashion as SAGE, which replaced the manual system in place with the JASDF since 1960. The requirement was stated in July 1961, and was actually modeled on the Naval Tactical Information System (NTDS), developed by Hughes for the US Navy. This was ordered in December 1964, and operational in March 1969. This was superseded by Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment (JADGE) in July 2009.

Japanese Air Defense and the Cold War Origins of Air Defense Identification Zones

Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) in the South China Sea [Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa)/Creative Commons/Wikipedia]

My previous posts have discussed the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and the aircraft used to perform the Defensive Counter Air (DCA) mission. To accomplish this, the JASDF is supported by an extensive air defense system which closely mirrors U.S. Air Force (USAF) and U.S. Navy (USN) systems and has co-evolved as technology and threats have changed over time.

Japan’s integrated air defense network and the current challenges it faces are both rooted in the Cold War origins of the modern U.S. air defense network.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea launched an invasion of South Korea, drawing the United States into a war that would last for three years. Believing that the North Korean attack could represent the first phase of a Soviet-inspired general war, the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered Air Force air defense forces to a special alert status. In the process of placing forces on heightened alert, the Air Force uncovered major weaknesses in the coordination of defensive units to defend the nation’s airspace. As a result, an air defense command and control structure began to develop and Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ) were staked out along the nation’s frontiers. With the establishment of ADIZ, unidentified aircraft approaching North American airspace would be interrogated by radio. If the radio interrogation failed to identify the aircraft, the Air Force launched interceptor aircraft to identify the intruder visually. In addition, the Air Force received Army cooperation. The commander of the Army’s Antiaircraft Artillery Command allowed the Air Force to take operational control of the gun batteries as part of a coordinated defense in the event of attack.

In addition to North America, the U.S. unilaterally declared ADIZs to protect Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan in 1950. This action had no explicit foundation in international law.

Under the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention), each State has complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory. While national sovereignty cannot be delegated, the responsibility for the provision of air traffic services can be delegated.… [A] State which delegates to another State the responsibility for providing air traffic services within airspace over its territory does so without derogation of its sovereignty.

This precedent set the stage for China to unilaterally declare ADIZs its own in 2013 that overlap those of Japan in the East China Sea. China’s ADIZs have the same international legal validity as those of the U.S. and Japan, which has muted criticism of China’s actions by those countries.

Recent activity by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) and nuclear and missile testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea) is prompting incremental upgrades and improvements to the Japanese air defense radar network.

In August 2018, six Chinese H-6 bombers passed between Okinawa’s main island and Miyako Island heading north to Kii Peninsula. “The activities by Chinese aircraft in surrounding areas of our country have become more active and expanding its area of operation,” the spokesman [of the Japanese Ministry of Defense] said.… “There were no units placed on the islands on the Pacific Ocean side, such as Ogasawara islands, which conducted monitoring of the area…and the area was without an air defense capability.”

Such actions by the PLAAF and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) have provided significant rationale in the Japanese decision to purchase the F-35B and retrofit their Izumo-class helicopter carriers to operate them, as the Pacific Ocean side of Japan is relatively less developed for air defense and airfields for land-based aircraft.

My next post will look at the development of the U.S. air defense network and its eventual integration with those of Japan and NATO

The Japanese Aerospace Industry

A schematic rendering of Japan’s proposed F-3 fighter [Tokyoexpress.info]

In my previous post, I discussed the progression of aircraft in use by the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) since World War II. Japan has also invested significant sums in its domestic aerospace manufacturing capability over this same time period.

Japanese aircraft manufacturing has long been closely tied to the U.S Air Force (USAF) and U.S. aerospace majors offering aircraft for sales, as well as licensed production. Japanese aerospace trade groups categorize this into several distinct phases, including:

  • Restarting the aircraft business – starting in 1952 during the Korean War, Japanese aerospace firms like Mitsubishi and Kawasaki reacquired aircraft manufacturing capability by securing contacts with the USAF for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of damaged USAF aircraft, including the F-86 Sabre, considered by the Americans to be the star aircraft of the war (although many believe its opponent from the Soviet side, the MiG-15 to have been superior.) There was little doubt, then, that the JASDF would purchase the F-86 and then license its domestic production.
  • Licensed production of US military aircraft – “Japan has engaged in licensed production of U.S. state-of-the-art fighter planes, from the F-86 to the F-104, the F-4, and the F-15. Through these projects, the Japanese aircraft industry revived the technical capabilities necessary to domestically manufacture entire aircraft.”
  • Domestic military aircraft production – Japanese designed aircraft, while independent, unique designs, also leveraged certain Western designed aircraft as their inspiration, such as the T-1 and eventual F-1 follow-on and the clear resemblance to the British Jaguar. This pattern was repeated in 1987 with the F-2 and its clear design basis on the F-16.
  • Domestic Production of business, and civil aircraft – “Japan domestically produces the YS-11 passenger plane as well as the FA-200, MU-2, FA-300, MU-300, BK-117, and other commercial aircraft, and is an active participant in international joint development programs with partners such as the American passenger aircraft manufacturer Boeing.”

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) won a contract to build the wing for the Boeing 787, a job that Boeing now considers a core competency, and is unlikely to outsource again (they kept this task in house for the more recent 737 MAX, and 777X aircraft). This shows MHI’s depth of capability.

Also in the previous post, I could not help but include the “F-22J,” a hypothetical fighter that has been requested by the Japanese government numerous times, as the air power threat from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has grown. The export of the F-22, however, was outlawed by the Obey amendment to the 1998 Defense Authorization Act (a useful summary of this debate is here). So stymied, the JASDF and supporting Ministry of Defense personnel conducted a series of design studies in order to establish detailed requirements. These studies clarified the approach to be taken for the next aircraft to put into service, the F-3 program, ostensibly a successor to the F-2, although the role to be played is more of an air superiority or air dominance fighter, rather than a strike fighter. These studies concluded that range, or endurance is the most important metric for survivability, a very interesting result indeed.

Airframe developers…appear to have settled on something close to the 2013 configuration for the F-3 that emphasized endurance and weapons load over flight performance… That design, 25DMU, described a heavy fighter with a belly weapons bay for six ramjet missiles about the size of the MBDA Meteor. The wing was large and slender by fighter standards, offering high fuel volume and low drag due to lift but penalizing acceleration.… The key factor was that the high-endurance design provided more aircraft on station than would be available from an alternative fleet of high-performance fighters. – (Aviation Week & Space Technology, February 15-28, 2016)

I am curious about the air combat models that reached the conclusion that endurance is the key metric for a new fighter. Similar USAF combat models indicated that in a conflict with PLA armed forces, the USAF would be pushed back to their bases in Japan after the first few days. “In any air war we do great in the first couple of days. Then we have to move everything back to Japan, and we can’t generate sufficient sorties from that point for deep strike on the mainland,” according to Christopher Johnson, former CIA senior China analyst [“The rivals,” The Economist, 20 October 2018]. (History reminds us of aircraft designed for range and maneuverability, the Mitsubishi A6M “Zero,” which also de-emphasized durability, such as pilot armor or self-sealing fuel tanks … was this the best choice?) Validation of combat models with historical combat data seems like an excellent choice if you are investing trillions of Yen, putting the lives of your military pilots on the line, and investing in a platform that will be in service for decades.

Given this expected cost, Japan faces a choice to develop the F-3 independently, or with foreign partners. Mitsubishi built and flew the X-2 “Shinshin” prototype in April 2016. The JASDF also issued an RFP to existing aircraft manufacturers, including the BAE Eurofighter Typhoon, the Boeing F-15 Eagle, and the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. In October 2018, the Typhoon and the Eagle were rejected for not meeting the requirements, while the Raptor was rejected because “no clear explanation was given about the possibility of the U.S. government lifting the export ban.” The prospect of funding the entire cost of the F-3 fighter by independently developing the X-2 also does not appear acceptable, so Japan will look for a foreign partner for co-development. There is no shortage of options, from the British, the Franco-Germans, or multiple options with the Americans.

Evolution of the Roles and Missions of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF)

[Sources: IHS Jane’s All the World’s Fighting Aircraft, Wikipedia, militarymachine.com, author’s estimates}

In my previous posts, I explored impact the political aftermath of the Pacific War on Japan and the gradual restoration of sovereignty had on its air power policy. During this time, aircraft and air defense technology changed rapidly and the roles and mission of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) evolved rapidly as well.

The JASDF has been closely tied to the U.S. Air Force (USAF) since its inception. This was true in terms of missions, doctrine, technology and equipment. The primary role of the JASDF has been air defense and the protection of Japanese sovereignty (Defensive Counter Air, DCA), since 1958 when this mission was transitioned back from the USAF. The 1978 National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) mandated this, and also prohibited mid-air refueling and precision-strike munitions. These missions were gradually permitted as the threat environment evolved. (See this thesis for a good summary.)

The role of offensive air power (i.e. Offensive Counter Air or OCA; attacking enemy airbases, missile launch sites and similar military facilities) has traditionally been reserved for the USAF due to legal limits on the possible missions by the JASDF. Specifically the U.S. Armed Forces, Japan, 5th Air Force is a considerable force, including the 18th Wing at Kadena, Okinawa with four squadrons of F-15s, and the 35th Wing at Misawa in Northern Japan with four squadrons of F-16s, among other support squadrons to tankers, AWACs, etc.

This posture and division of responsibilities between the JSADF and USAF has gradually changed over time, or “emerging as it really is”:

  • In the early 1980’s, the F-1 attack aircraft had a strike capability against shipping with the ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles.
  • In the late 1990’s, the F-4EJ upgraded “Kai” version added ground attack and the ability to strike with the ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles.
  • In the early 2000’s, the F-2 aircraft was introduced, with ground attack with precision-guided munitions and the ability to strike with the ASM-2.
  • Currently, as the F-35A is adopted, it will have state-of-the-art precision strike capabilities, and likely use the Joint Strike Missile (JSM).

Nonetheless, the primary mission of the JASDF remains air superiority and interception. The data visualization above illustrates the different types of air superiority aircraft in service with the JASDF over time. This chart is based on six quantitative measures of analysis, and has a moderate level of information density:

  1. Service Year – on the horizontal axis; when was this type introduced into service by the JASDF? This is often significantly after the similar type was introduced into service with the USAF. In some cases, this is an estimate, or in the case of the hypothetical “F-22J”, alternative history (aka wild speculation).
  2. Aircraft Type – each bubble represents an aircraft type.
  3. Range SMI (statute miles) – the color of the bubble, with darker being longer range; this is a the combat range of the aircraft type, often with optional drop tanks.
  4. Max Speed MPH (statute miles per hour) – the size of the bubble represents the maximum speed of the aircraft, measured from a base of 100 MPH. This is typically at high altitude.
  5. Rate of Climb FPM (feet per minute) – this is the ability of the aircraft to climb to altitude, and a key metric for an interceptor with a mission to rise to bombers which have violated the airspace of a nation.
  6. Thrust to Weight Ratio – this measures the ability to propel the aircraft compared with the loaded weight of the aircraft. This is often used to express the capability to climb, for when an aircraft has a high angle of attack, thrust becomes lift, so when an aircraft has more lift than weight, it can climb, and even accelerate while moving straight up.
  7. Wing Loading LBS/SquareFoot – this measures the size of the wing (and thus by proxy the lift generation capability) as compared to the weight of the aircraft, it is typically used to indicate the ability to turn quickly (i.e. change in degrees per second).

A few insights become clear when visualizing the data in this way. First, the F-104J in the role of interceptor was a huge leap in capability over the F-86 Sabre types. In many ways the F-104J set the standard to which later aircraft would match. Next, the linear progression between 1960 and 1980 of aircraft performance capability reached an apex with the F-15J, with a period of upgrades reflected in the “Kai” versions. Also, with some knowledge of these airframes, it can be seen that the Japanese market for military aircraft has been dominated by the Americans as opposed to the Europeans (or Russians). There are many aspects of these aircraft which are not captured in this chart, including weaponry, sensors, and stealth. I have discussed the relevance of these metrics in previous blog posts.

Today, the JSDF operates a wide range of aircraft, specialized in missions ranging across the spectrum of domains, with modern air force capabilities. A list of aircraft currently operated by force, and with numbers is presented in the annex, based upon the most current authoritative sources, but also updated for recent decisions by the Japanese government on procurement.

An “F-22J” is included as an “alternative history” in the chart above since the Japanese government has repeatedly sought to purchase this aircraft from Lockheed Martin for the JASDF. They have been stymied by the Obey amendment to the 1998 Defense Appropriations Act, which specifically forbade the export of the F-22 in order to protect the secrecy of its advanced technology.

Japan’s Grand Strategy And The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) (III)

[Nippon.com]

Modern air forces require significant capital investments (surpassed only by naval capital investment requirements) and also require significant technological capability. Both of these aspects of modern military power require a strong economic foundation for support. Japan has a long history of investing in its own military industrial capability.

During the Meiji era (1868 to 1912), Japan economic doctrine was summed up in a motto: fukoku kyōhei, meaning “Enrich the Country, Strengthen the Armed Forces.” This phrase actually comes from an ancient Chinese book named Zhan Guo Ce (“Strategies of the Warring States”), from the 5th – 3rd century B.C. period of the same name in Chinese history. This is an excellent example of how for both Japan and China reference their own historical experiences to inform current decision-making.

The post-World War II Japanese body politic had lived through the devastation of war and became focused on economic recovery. The original motto was thus shortened to eliminate kyōhei (“strong army”), leaving only fukoku (“enrich the country”). The resulting single-minded focus paid dividends as the Japanese “economic miracle” enabled it to become the first Asian nation to “catch” the West (see image above). This policy is sometimes referred to as the “Yoshida Doctrine.” Coined in 1977 by Masashi Nishihara and summarized by Professor Sugita of Osaka University, the main elements of the doctrine are:

  1. Japan ensures its national security through an alliance with the United States;
  2. Japan maintains a low capacity for self-defense;
  3. Japan spends resources conserved by the first and second policies on economic activities to develop the country as a trading nation.

In December 2012, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced “Abenomics”, a multi-faceted approach to revive Japan’s sluggish economy and to restore Japan’s geopolitical influence as a counterbalance to China’s rise. Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have re-invoked the term fukoku kyōhei, acknowledging that a strong economy and a strong military will be needed in this endeavor.

Japan’s Grand Strategy And The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) (II)

Hypothetical occupation zones for post-war Japan had the Allies decided to divide the country. [Pinterest]

In previous posts, I have explored the political and strategic context for the role of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). Now I will look at the political reasons why the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) is restricted in its operating concepts and capabilities.

After the Pacific War (which for Japan lasted from 1931 to 1945), the devastation of the war and backlash against militarism became conventional wisdom among Japanese. At the Moscow Conference of December 1945, the Allies agreed that since Japan had fallen to the United States, that country would be allowed to conduct the post-war occupation. (Hungary had fallen to the Red Army and thus was occupied by the Soviet Union alone.) This decision saved Japan from a division like Germany or Korea, although the Soviets still had plans for a Japanese communist state (see below). The map above is a hypothetical division of Japan, developed by a wargamer.

The greater Japanese empire, however was divided among the Allies, with many natural choices, such as the former British colonial possessions being returned (e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong, etc.), former French colonial possessions being returned (Indochina), South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands going to the Soviets, and Taiwan and the Pescadores returning to China (although which China became a key question in 1949). Notably, Korea was divided into North and South, with the Soviets in control of the former, and the other Allies (primarily the US and UK) managing the later.

In Japan, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur governed and imposed a new post-war constitution, which came into force in May 1947, and is technically an amendment to the original Meiji-era constitution of 1889. Article 9 of which reads as below:

(1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

(2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

As early as 1946, however, planners in the the Joint Staff, under the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), began to consider the re-armament of Japan, anticipating a Soviet attack against Japan. The actual Soviet war plan to attack Hokkaido on August 24th 1945 was published by the Wilson center in 2015, and some say that strategic nuclear deterrence was what saved Japan from the same fate as divided Germany.

In March 1948, when Washington considered starting peace treaty negotiations with Japan, Under Secretary of the Army William Draper stated that the War Department was generally in favor of Japanese rearmament. In response to an inquiry by the secretary of defense, the JCS stated: ‘Solely from the military viewpoint, the establishment of Japanese armed forces is desirable’ to offset ‘our own limited manpower.’

The American vision of an unarmed and pacifist Japan, as rapidly enshrined in the constitution, was nearly dead on arrival, as international events unfolded rapidly in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s:

  • 1947, March – President Harry Truman addressed Congress and the U.S. public, announcing the policy of containment, and establishing the Truman Doctrine.
  • June 1948 – the Soviet Union blockaded Berlin, resulting in the famous airlift.
  • October 1949 – Chiang Kai-shek and the Republic of China were defeated by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Red Army, founding the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
  • June 1950 – North Korea, a Soviet satellite state since 1945, invaded South Korea, fracturing the post-war territorial division.

Thus, by 1950 when John Foster Dulles was appointed to begin negotiating a peace treaty with Japan to conclude the American occupation, he and most other American policy makers had come to see Japan as very important to the defense of American interests and democracy in the Far East.

  • September 1951 – The Treaty of San Francisco was signed, establishing peace between Japan and many Allied nations, but notably not the Soviet Union, China as Republic of China (Taiwan), or People’s Republic of China (mainland), or North nor South Korea.
  • September 1951 – The U.S.-Japan Security Treaty was signed on the same date, but entered into force in April 1952. This ended the military occupation, restored sovereignty to the Japanese government, but also clarified the ongoing US military presence in Japan, originally the Far East Command (FEC) from 1947 until 1957 when the United States Forces Japan (USFJ).
  • March 1954 – The original Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan, “contained provisions that permitted the United States to act for the sake of maintaining peace in East Asia and even exert its power on Japanese domestic quarrels.” (Wikipedia)
  • October 1956 – The Soviet Union and Japan signed the Joint Declaration, a bi-lateral agreement short of a peace treaty. This normalized relations between the countries since the Soviet Union did not sign the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco. This agreement breaks news today, as Japan and Russia are currently moving towards a peace treaty.
  • 1958 – The U.S. Air Force (USAF) handed over airspace responsibility to JASDF. Threats to Japanese airspace were dealt with in the same way that they were in the U.S. prior to the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system, much like they were by the British in 1940 (see Dowding System), by manual means. It would be more than a decade until Japan had its own version of SAGE, known as Base Air Defense Ground Environment (BADGE) in English, and 自動警戒管制組織 (jidou keikai kansei soshiki) ”Automatic Warning and Control Organization” in Japanese. [More on this in a future post.]
  • January 1960 – Two key documents were updated, the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security, and the U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement. To alleviate the unequal status, removed the provision to intervene in Japanese domestic quarrels, included articles to delineate mutual defense obligations, and U.S. obligations to pre-inform Japan in times of the U.S. military mobilization. The ratification of this treaty was greeted with widespread protests by the Japanese public, who opposed nuclear weapons in Japan, and were concerned about being on the front line in a possible nuclear exchange between the US and the Soviet Union.

Japan’s Grand Strategy And The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) (I)

Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-15 at Chitose Air Base, Japan in 2014. [Suga/Wikimedia]

In the previous post on Japan’s grand strategy, I observed its focus on the maritime domain and connectivity with the Indian Ocean. Much seaborne trade flows through this region, especially oil supplies for industrialized countries in East Asia, including Japan and China. These sea lines of communication (SLOC) extend far beyond Japan’s sovereign territory.

I also noted that the Japanese home islands required attention as well, as challenges to airspace sovereignty are ever present, even as they ebb and flow with the geopolitical situation of the times (see statistics through 2017).

To the student of military might, it may seem strange for a nation to project power in the maritime domain but to have a more reserved attitude towards projecting power in the air domain. After all, it has been well demonstrated and accepted that air power can be highly effective in the maritime domain, as evidenced by:

The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, employing 21 obsolete Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean Sea. The attack struck the battle fleet of the Regia Marina at anchor in the harbor of Taranto. “Taranto, and the night of 11–12 November 1940, should be remembered for ever as having shown once and for all that in the Fleet Air Arm the Navy has its most devastating weapon.” Admiral Andrew Cunningham, British Royal Navy

The infamous attack on the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet at anchor on 7 December 1941 involved the notable use of naval aviation by the Imperial Japanese Navy’s 1st Air Fleet (Kidō Butai), “[A] revolutionary and potentially formidable instrument of sea power.”  Gordon Prange.

The Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy off the coast of Malaya on 10 December 1941.

This ability to rapidly project power over great distances from the air contributed to the general state of surprise that the Allies found themselves (summed up nicely here):

The technological superiority of Japanese aviation, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse, and Japan’s rapid advance and dominance of the air shocked everyone. Japan was not only technologically superior in the air, its ability to support, replace, and move air assets was far superior to the Americans and the British. General Percival, the British commander in Malaya, was surprised that the Japanese were able to bomb Singapore in the first days of the war despite the fact that their nearest airbase was seven hundred miles away. He would soon profess his amazement at the performance of Japanese aircraft and their ability to launch coordinated attacks on targets all over Malaya.

Even after aerial defeats at Midway, the Marianas, and after the devastating strategic bombing campaign by the U..S Army Air Forces (USAAF), the Japanese were able to field effective air units, such as the 343rd Kōkūtai (Naval Air Group), with veteran pilots, led by experienced commanders such as Minoru Genda (more about him later), using excellent fighter aircraft; the N1K-J Shiden Kai / “George”. In these limited situations, the balance of aerial combat was not so lopsided as the headline numbers suggest (here is an excellent thesis on the complexity in these ratios). These air defense efforts, however, where too little, too late for the Japanese, but they illustrate capabilities which would re-emerge after the war, and especially in military alliance and rearmament with the US.

So, after having innovated the use of air power in the 1930’s and clearly demonstrating this to the world in the 1940’s, why is today’s JASDF relatively circumspect, especially relative to the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), as Japan gradually moves into a more assertive foreign policy (as discussed previously)?

Vessels of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force

JMSDF Destroyers JS INAZUMA (DD 105)and JS SUZUTSUKI (DD117)) commanded by Rear Admiral Tatsuya Fukuda, Commander Escort Flotilla 4, sail in the Pacific for Indo Southeast Asia Deployment 2018 (ISEAD18) in August 2018 while conducting Replenishment At Sea (RAS) training. [Japan Ministry of Defense]

Vessels of the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF), 2018-2019
(adapted from Wikipedia, and Jane’s Defense: Sea Module)

Type Class Name

Displacement (tonnes)

Notes
Attack submarine Sōryū-class  JS Sōryū

 JS Unryū

 JS Hakuryū

 JS Kenryū

 JS Zuiryū

 JS Kokuryū

 JS Jinryū

 JS Sekiryū

 JS Seiryū

 JS Shōryū

 JS Ōryū

4,200

Additional subs building to be commissioned.
Oyashio-class  JS Uzushio

 JS Makishio

 JS Isoshio

 JS Narushio

 JS Kuroshio

 JS Takashio

 JS Yaeshio

 JS Setoshio

 JS Mochishio

4,000

2 of 11 built converted to training ships.
Helicopter destroyer Izumo-class  JS Izumo 

 JS Kaga

27,000

(or Helicopter carrier)
Hyūga-class  JS Hyūga

 JS Ise

19,000

Guided missile destroyer (Aegis) Maya-class  JS Maya

10,500

JS Maya is expected to be in commission by March 2020.
Atago-class  JS Atago

 JS Ashigara

10,000

Kongō-class  JS Kongō

 JS Kirishima

 JS Myōkō

 JS Chōkai

9,500

Guided missile destroyer Hatakaze-class  JS Hatakaze

 JS Shimakaze

5,900

Destroyer Asahi-class  JS Asahi

6,800

First Asahi-class destroyer, JS Shiranui, is expected to be in commissioned by March 2019.
Akizuki-class  JS Akizuki

 JS Teruzuki

 JS Suzutsuki

 JS Fuyuzuki

6,800

Takanami-class  JS Takanami

 JS Onami

 JS Makinami

 JS Sazanami

 JS Suzunami

6,300

Murasame-class  JS Murasame

 JS Harusame

 JS Yudachi

 JS Kirisame

 JS Inazuma

 JS Samidare

 JS Ikazuchi

 JS Akebono

 JS Ariake

6,100

Small destroyer Asagiri-class  JS Asagiri

 JS Yamagiri

 JS Yūgiri

 JS Amagiri

 JS Hamagiri

 JS Setogiri

 JS Sawagiri

 JS Umigiri

4,900

Hatsuyuki-class  JS Matsuyuki

 JS Asayuki

4,000

Destroyer escort Abukuma-class  JS Abukuma

 JS Jintsu

 JS Oyodo

 JS Sendai

 JS Chikuma

 JS Tone

2,550

 (or corvette)
Minesweeper Uraga-class  JS Uraga

 JS Bungo

5,500

Categorized as Mine-countermeasures support ship.
Awaji-class  JS Awaji

 JS Hirado

690

JMSDF commissions second Awaji-class minesweeper
Enoshima-class  JS Enoshima

 JS Chichijima

 JS Hatsushima

570

Hirashima-class  JS Hirashima

 JS Yakushima

 JS Takashima

570

Sugashima-class  JS Sugashima

 JS Notojima

 JS Tsunoshima

 JS Naoshima

 JS Toyoshima

 JS Ukushima

 JS Izushima

 JS Aishima

 JS Aoshima

 JS Miyajima

 JS Shishijima

 JS Kuroshima

570

Uwajima-class  JS Nagashima

570

Minesweeper controller Ieshima-class  JS Kumejima

 JS Yugeshima

570

Reconverted Uwajima-class minesweeper.
Landing ship tank Ōsumi-class  JS Ōsumi

 JS Shimokita

 JS Kunisaki

14,000

The Japanese MoD is planning to perform a major refit on the Osumi-class to improve their amphibious capabilities.
Utility landing craft LCU-2001-class  JS LC No.1

 JS LC No.2

540

Landing craft mechanized YL-09-class  JS YL-11

 JS YL-12

 JS YL-13

 JS YL-14

 JS YL-15

 JS YL-16

 JS YL-17

50

Patrol boat Hayabusa-class  JS Hayabusa

 JS Wakataka

 JS Otaka

 JS Kumataka

 JS Umitaka

 JS Shiritaka

240

Cadet training ship Kashima-class  JS Kashima

4,050

Training vessel Shimayuki-class  JS Shimayuki

 JS Setoyuki

 JS Yamayuki

3,000

Reconverted Hatsuyuki-class destroyers.
Training submarine Oyashio-class  JS Oyashio

 JS Michishio

4,000

Reconverted Oyashio-class submarines.
Training support ship Kurobe-class  JS Kurobe (ATS-4202)
Tenryu-class  JS Tenryu (ATS-4203)
Replenishment oiler Mashu-class  JS Mashu

 JS Omi

25,000

Towada-class  JS Hamana

 JS Tokiwa

 JS Towada

15,000

Training support ship Hiuchi-class  JS Hiuchi

 JS Suo

 JS Amakusa

 JS Genkai

 JS Enshu

1,000

Cable laying ship ATC Muroto
Submarine rescue vessel  

 

 JS Chiyoda

7,100

JMSDF commissions new submarine rescue ship
 JS Chihaya

6,900

Oceanographic research ship AGS Shonan

AGS Nichinan

AGS Futami

Ocean surveillance ship Hibiki-class  JS Hibiki

 JS Harima

JMSDF orders third, more advanced, Hibiki-class ship.
Experiment ship ASE Asuka
Ice breaker AGB Shirase

20,000

Yacht ASY Hashidate

Japan’s Grand Strategy and Military Forces (IV)

Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Helicopter Destroyer JS Izumo. [Japan Ministry of Defense}

In my previous post, I took a look at the roots of the extremely close level of integration between the U.S. Navy (USN) and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). This post will look at new Japanese naval technology development efforts that compliment USN capabilities, which in turn further the common strategic interests of both countries.

While officially classed as a helicopter destroyer (per the doctrinal focus on anti-submarine warfare (ASW)), Izumo-class ships are aircraft carriers in many respects, not least by the image they project to other countries in the region. In March 2018, Japanese Defense Secretary Onodera announced that a study was underway to determine if the Izumo-class could embark F-35B fighters. This would give the JMSDF a similar capability to the U.S. Marine Corps’ (USMC) Amphibious Assault Ships or the Royal Navy’s (RN) new Queen Elizabeth class carrier, (65,000 tons empty). At only 27,000 tons fully loaded, the Izumo class is roughly half the size of U.S.S. America (44,971 tons, fully loaded).

The ability to generate air sorties at sea is a key capability that drives the acquisition of aircraft carriers. Generating stealth fighter sorties at sea gives a potent strike capability, which could conceivably be used to strike at North Korean missile launch facilities, for example. This contingency plan alone was enough to draw a diplomatic warning from Beijing.  Undeterred, the Japanese Defense Ministry just announced plans for F-35Bs to be purchased, as well as hypersonic missile capabilities.

Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Soryu-class submarine Hakuryu (SS-503) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled port visit. (U.S. Navy/Cmdr. Christy Hagen/Released)

Another example of Japanese maritime power projection capability is the Soryu class submarine, who some have claimed is the “best submarine in the world” (Mizokami-san does good work at Japan Security Watch). Carrying up to 30 “fish,” the Soryu class’s Type 89 torpedo is a formidable weapon, not least of which is its maximum speed of 70 knots, which is faster than the U.S. Mk48 ADCAP torpedo’s 55 knots.

Starting this October, these subs will feature lithium-ion batteries, which can store about double the energy of a lead-acid battery for the same volume, and also offers a weight advantage. This enhances the Soryu’s power projection effectiveness, as the Japanese Ministry of Defense has recently announced deployments to the contested South China Sea.

While these are hailed as a first, it is more likely this was the initial announcement of such deployments, which probably have been ongoing for some time. There is a certain logic to parsing how these information releases are worded:

Demonstrating freedom of navigation, a Japanese submarine for the first time conducted drills in the South China Sea where China is constructing military facilities, according to Japanese government sources. The Defense Ministry secretly dispatched the Kuroshio, a Maritime Self-Defense Force submarine, which conducted anti-submarine drills on Sept. 13 with three MSDF destroyers that were on a long-term mission around Southeast Asia, they said. The ministry had conducted anti-submarine drills only in sea areas around Japan, they added. [emphasis added]

This says nothing about being the first deployment, only the first anti-submarine warfare (ASW) drill.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has been awarded a contract by the Japanese MoD to build the first two of four ships of a new class of multirole frigate (seen here in computer-generated imagery) for the JMSDF. {Source: MHI]

In accordance with its 2018 National Defense Program Guidelines, Japan is also planning a new type of multi-role frigate. The JMSDF has announced plans “to introduce a new type of destroyer with minesweeping capabilities, with the aim of increasing the number of such vessels to 22 in the 2030s, sources said. In light of the intensifying activities of the Chinese Navy in the East China Sea, including around the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, the government aims to improve warning and surveillance capabilities.”

According to Jane’s,

[T]his new frigate class, which is intended to carry out surveillance missions in waters surrounding the Japanese archipelago, will be equipped with enhanced multirole capabilities, including the ability to conduct anti-mine warfare operations, which until now have been performed by the JMSDF’s ocean-going minesweepers. Armament on the frigates, each of which will be capable of embarking one helicopter as well as unmanned surface and underwater vehicles, is expected to include the navalized version of the Type-03 (also known as the ‘Chū-SAM Kai’) medium-range surface-to-air missile, a 5-inch (127 mm)/62-calibre gun, a vertical launch system, canister-launched anti-ship missiles, and a SeaRAM close-in weapon system.

From this, we can see that this weapon system is intended to keep the military balance in place in the home waters, more so than a power projection mission. The purpose for these capabilities becomes more clear when considering the investments by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in mine warfare. “Today, the evidence continues to mount that the employment of sea mines remains a core tenet of Chinese naval war-fighting doctrine.Andrew Erickson of the U.S. Naval War College has written a great white paper on the topic, entiled “Chinese Mine Warfare: A PLA Navy ‘Assassin’ s Mace’ Capability.”  More to follow on this in later posts!

Japan’s Grand Strategy and Military Forces (III)

[John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab]

In my previous post, I looked at the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) basic strategic missions of defending Japan from maritime invasion and securing the sea lines of communication (SLOC). This post will examine the basis for JMSDF’s approach to those tasks.

In 2011, JMSDF Vice Admiral (Ret.) Yoji Koda published an excellent article in the Naval War College Review, entitled “A New Carrier Race?.” Two passages therefrom are particular relevant and illuminating:

In 1952, … the Japan Maritime Guard (JMG) was established as a rudimentary defense organization for the nation. The leaders of the JMG were determined that the organization would be a navy, not a reinforced coast guard. Most were combat-experienced officers (captains and below) of the former Imperial Japanese Navy, and they had clear understanding of the difference between a coast guard–type law-enforcement force and a navy. Two years later, the JMG was transformed into the JMSDF, and with leaders whose dream to build a force that had a true naval function was stronger than ever. However, they also knew the difficulty of rebuilding a real navy, in light of strict constraints imposed by the new, postwar constitution. Nonetheless, the JMSDF has built its forces and trained its sailors vigorously, with this goal in view, and it is today one of the world’s truly capable maritime forces in both quality and size.

This continuity with the World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) is evident in several practices. The JMSDF generally re-uses IJN names of for new vessels, as well as its naval ensign, the Kyokujitsu-ki or “Rising Sun” flag. This flag is seen by some in South Korea and other countries as symbolic of Japan’s wartime militarism. In October 2018, the JMSDF declined an invitation to attend a naval review held by the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) at Jeju island, due to a request that only national flags be flown at the event. This type of disagreement may have a material impact on the ability of the JMSDF and the ROKN, both allies of the United States, to jointly operate effectively.

Koda continued:

Since the founding of the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) and within it the JMSDF, in 1954…the bases of Japan’s national security and defense are the capability of the JSDF and the Japanese-U.S. alliance… Thus the operational concept of the JSDF with respect to the U.S. armed forces has been one of complementary mission-sharing, in which U.S. forces concentrate on offensive operations, while the JSDF maximizes its capability for defensive operations. In other words, the two forces form what is known as a “spear and shield” relationship… [T]he JMSDF ensures that Japan can receive American reinforcements from across the Pacific Ocean, guarantees the safety of U.S. naval forces operating around Japan, and enables U.S. carrier strike groups (CSGs) to concentrate on strike operations against enemy naval forces and land targets…[so] the JMSDF has set antisubmarine warfare as its main task…ASW was made the main pillar of JMSDF missions. Even in the present security environment, twenty years after the end of the Cold War and the threat of invasion from the Soviet Union, two factors are unchanged—the Japanese-U.S. alliance and Japan’s dependence on imported natural resources. Therefore the protection of SLOCs has continued to be a main mission of the JMSDF.

It is difficult to overstate the degree to which the USN and JMSDF are integrated. The US Navy’s Seventh Fleet is headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan, where the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class super carrier, is stationed. Historically, this position was filled by the U.S.S. George Washington, which is currently back in Virginia undergoing refueling and overhaul. According to the Stars and Stripes, she may return to Japan with a new air wing, incorporating the MQ-25A Stingray aerial refueling drones.

According to the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA), the USN has the following ships based in Japan:

  • Yokosuka (south of Tokyo, in eastern Japan)
    • One CVN (nuclear aircraft carrier), U.S.S. Ronald Reagan
    • One AGC (amphibious command ship), U.S.S. Blue Ridge
    • Three CG (guided missile cruisers)
    • Seven DDG (guided missile destroyers)
  • Sasebo (north of Nagasaki, in the southern island of Kyuushu)
    • One LHD (amphibious assault ship, multi-purpose), U.S.S. Bon Home Richard
    • One LPD (amphibious transport dock), U.S.S. Greenway
    • Two LSD (dock landing ship)
    • Four MCM (mine counter measure ship)

One example of this close integration is the JS Maya, a Guided Missile Destroyer (DDG), launched on 30 July 2018. The ship is currently outfitting and is expected to be commissioned in 2020. A notable feature is the Collective Engagement Capability (CEC) (see graphic above). CEC is a “revolutionary approach to air defense,” according to John Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (which is involved in the development), “it allows combat systems to share unfiltered sensor measurements data associated with tracks with rapid timing and precision to enable the [USN-JMSDF] battlegroup units to operate as one.”

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the China’s People’s Liberation Army Naval Military Studies Research Institute, expressed concern in Chinese Global Times about this capability for “potentially targeting China and threatening other countries… CEC will strengthen intelligence data sharing with the US…strengthen their [US and Japan] military alliance. From the US perspective, it can better control Japan… ‘Once absolute security is realized by Japan and the US, they could attack other countries without scruples, which will certainly destabilize other regions.’”