This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

Military actions today depend on the effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum to surveil and assess the battlespace, to protect friendly forces and equipment, and to attack the enemy. Japan has been recently enhancing its capabilities in this field.

Japan’s air force announced the induction of the RC-2 electronic intelligence, or elint, gathering aircraft. It is the first of a new intelligence-gathering aircraft into service, following a two-year flight test program.

The RC-2 is based on Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ C-2 airlifter and has been heavily modified with multiple aircraft fairings that contain antennas for detecting, receiving and classifying electronic emissions. 

The aircraft made its maiden flight in early 2018, though the variant had been in development since at least 2015.

The RC-2 will replace the four NAMC YS-11EBs currently serving with the squadron, although it’s unknown if the new platform will replace the YS-11EBs on a one-for-one basis. Japan is also seeking to recapitalize its standoff jamming capability. The latest budget request sought $144.9 million to develop a new standoff jammer aircraft, with the accompanying graphic released by the ministry suggesting that it will also be based on the C-2.

This aircraft will likely replace the two YS-11EAs and possibly the sole Kawasaki EC-1 in service with the JASDF’s Electronic Warfare Squadron, according to c4isrnet.com.