Japan to Phase Out "Eyes" of ASDF's Search, Rescue Missions


Tokyo, Jan. 3 (Jiji Press)--With the Japanese government revising its three key national security documents late last month, the country will phase out the Air Self-Defense Force's U-125A search and rescue planes, which serve as the "eyes" of missions to find missing ASDF aircraft.

This is because the government aims to secure enough human and other resources for increasing missions under the revision, such as the possession of counterstrike capabilities, the defense of space and cybersecurity.

As the U-125A aircraft are also used in disaster relief activities and transport of victims of disasters and other emergencies, however, there are concerns that the phaseout could negatively affect the Self-Defense Forces' missions in the event of accidents or disasters.

According to the ASDF, a total of 26 U-125A jets are currently deployed at air rescue units across the country, including in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, Miyagi and Akita prefectures in northeastern Japan, Niigata, Ishikawa and Shizuoka prefectures in central Japan, Fukuoka and Miyazaki prefectures in southwestern Japan and the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa.

U-125A aircraft have an important role to play for the ASDF's initial response, such as relaying information including the location and weather conditions to a rescue helicopter when people in need of rescue are found and guiding the chopper to the site, as well as dropping survival kits for such people until they are rescued.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press