National

Defense Ministry to set up electronic warfare unit in Kumamoto Prefecture

JIJI

As part of an effort to strengthen the defense of outlying islands, the Defense Ministry plans to set up an electronic warfare unit at Camp Kengun, operated by the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Western Army in Kumamoto Prefecture.

A cybersecurity unit was established at the same base this spring as the first such local GSDF unit.

A project is also underway to deploy a surface-to-ship missile unit in the Nansei island chain to prevent an invasion of remote islands.

“China has extended the firing range of cruise missiles and increased its attack capability in cyberspace and electromagnetic waves, areas that have become greater security threats,” a senior ministry official said.

“The SDF will put priority on the defense of its command communications system and responses to attacks from outside the threat zone.”

In response to signs of an island invasion, the 80-strong electronic warfare unit would jam an enemy’s radar and missile guidance signals while protecting the GSDF’s communications. The ministry also plans to introduce foreign anti-air electronic warfare equipment that can neutralize an airborne early warning and control system. It is looking at Israeli equipment as a candidate, ministry sources said.

The ministry included outlays for the electronic warfare unit in its budget request for fiscal 2020.

A cybersecurity unit consisting of some 40 personnel was launched at Camp Kengun in March. The unit accompanies an island defense amphibious force based in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, and a rapid response force in Kumamoto, to protect communications networks.

“Initial response units to address emergencies will be concentrated in Kyushu,” a senior GSDF officer said.

In Miyakojima, an island in Okinawa Prefecture, a type 12 surface-to-ship missile unit and a surface-to-air missile unit will be deployed by the end of March 2020. Such units have already been deployed in Amami-Oshima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture, and will also be deployed on Ishigaki Island, in Okinawa Prefecture, in the future.

As part of their missions, the missile units will deal with armed attacks that use cruise missiles.

Amami-Oshima has a population of about 60,000 people and Miyakojima some 55,000.

As SDF support is essential for transportation of relief supplies and the evacuation of residents in emergencies, local governments and the SDF work closely together under the Civil Protection Law.

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