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Friday, March 06, 2015

Chasing Chinese Planes 400 Times a Year Is Wearing Out Japan's Top Guns

JASDF F-15 EagleFighter pilot Jun Fukuda sits edgily on the couch in his flight suit, waiting for the call that sends him sprinting to his jet. On any given day, he will chase and warn off Chinese military planes nearing Japanese airspace.

The 35-year-old motorbike enthusiast and soon-to-be father is a captain in the fighter squadron based at Naha, the nearest Japanese base to islets in dispute with China.

The single squadron at the Okinawan capital operates in a high-octane environment, scrambled on average more than once a day -- a record of more than 400 times in the year through March 2014.

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