Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force marked Monday the establishment of a new electronic warfare unit to manage related corps scattered across the country which are beefing up capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum.

The unit, composed of around 180 personnel nationwide, is tasked with detecting and analyzing potential adversaries' communications and radar emissions. It will also be responsible for disrupting enemy communications and radar if called upon.

Photo taken on March 27, 2022, shows the Ground Self-Defense Force's cutting-edge "network electronic warfare system," dubbed NEWS, in Okinawa Prefecture. (Kyodo)

A ceremony marking the unit's launch was held Monday at the GSDF's Camp Asaka straddling Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture, where the unit headquarters is based.

"It is essential that the unit (as a whole) effectively inhibit our adversaries' ability to maximize our capabilities," Yasutaka Nakasone, a parliamentary vice minister of defense, said during the ceremony.

The unit headquarters was established on March 17 to address the country's urgent need to improve its capabilities in the electromagnetic field, along with space and cyberspace, in the face of China and Russia's military buildup.

The unit will operate the ground force's "network electronic warfare system," dubbed NEWS that collects, analyzes and jams enemy radio waves in an integrated manner. It aims to establish information superiority over potential adversaries.

"Strengthening capability in the new fields is critical to achieving synergies in combination with conventional domains and to responding appropriately to situations," said Col. Hiromitsu Kadota, the unit head.

The Defense Ministry sees the electromagnetic spectrum, outer space and cyberspace as crucial in maintaining the military balance among nations and in boosting the country's defense capabilities.

Since last year, the ministry has established electronic warfare units in garrisons across Japan, but predominantly in Okinawa and the southwestern region of Kyushu. Previously, there was only one unit on Japan's northern main island of Hokkaido.

As an example of such warfare, Russia launched electronic attacks in its invasion of Crimea in 2014 to disrupt communications of Ukrainian forces.

The Chinese military is increasingly integrating its conventional land, sea and air forces with space, cyber, electromagnetic and cognitive domains to enhance its joint operational capabilities, according to the National Institute for Defense Studies.

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