The continued enhancement of the Japan Air Self Defence Force’s (JASDF) airborne Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities took an important step forward on 8th February with the announcement of the maiden flight of the JASDF’s new Kawasaki EC-2 Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) aircraft.
Few details have been released regarding the aircraft’s capabilities, although some clues have emerged from publicly available imagery. A cutaway depiction of the aircraft includes three operator workstations in the cabin, and a host of equipment racks, suggesting that the aircraft is configured to perform the analysis of ELINT as and when it is gathered. The aircraft also includes a host of very/ultra high frequency (30 megahertz to three gigahertz) antennae on its ventral fuselage which is presumably to gather communications intelligence and signals intelligence vis-à-vis comparatively low frequency radars. Meanwhile larger, bulbous antennae are mounted on top, and on the sides, of the aircraft’s fuselage. These may also be tasked with collecting signals intelligence regarding ground-based air surveillance and fire control radars, or may house synthetic aperture radars, in the case of the fairings mounted on the aircraft’s fuselage, to gather imagery intelligence.
The advent of the EC-2 represents an important enhancement of JASDF ELINT and EW capabilities, and follows the news earlier this year that Japan is considering the acquisition of Boeing EF-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.