Japan’s Self-Defense Forces is preparing to shoot down foreign drones intruding into its airspace, a government source has revealed.
According to the Defense Ministry, which has drafted the plan, unmanned drones that infringe Japanese territorial airspace will be swiftly taken down.
Defense officials said that shooting down the drones was the best response to protect Japanese nationals, as these unmanned aerial vehicles will not heed warnings from radio or any aircraft that come near it.
The measure is also aimed at demonstrating Japan’s readiness to respond to any acts that violate its sovereignty, according to a source close to the government.
Current rules mandate Air Self-Defense Force fighters to down intruding aircraft if they are judged to pose a risk to Japanese nationals after first warnings are ignored.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly approved the plan after Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera briefed him.
The government will continue deliberations on how to respond to potential intrusions by drones carrying weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear or biological weapons, due to the risks that could be caused by shooting them down.
Earlier this month, ASDF jets were scrambled to Okinawa after a drone flew over the island, where the US military forces are located.
China admitted that the drone belonged to them and was part of surveillance patrols over the East China Sea. The drone was reportedly seen approaching the disputed Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyu in Chinese.
Japanese officials suspected that the aircraft might have been a reconnaissance plane capable of attacking. Authorities have ascertained that drones currently being developed by China are equipped with high-performance cameras and radar that are capable of detecting warnings.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: Virginia Guard Public Affairs/Flickr