Japan and India hold first joint fighter jet exercise

World Wednesday 18/January/2023 15:26 PM
By: DW
Japan and India hold first joint fighter jet exercise

Tokyo: Japan and India kicked off their first joint military exercise involving combat aircraft on Monday, Japan's Defence Ministry said.

The drills come as the so-called Quad Group — comprised of the United States, Japan, India and Australia — have grown increasingly concerned about China's military and economic influence in the region.

The joint exercise will last for 11 days and is taking place at the Hyakuri Air Base in Japan's Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

Eight Japanese fighter jets are involved while India has sent four war planes of its own, as well as two transport aircraft and a refueling tanker, according to Japan's Defense Ministry.

Some 150 Indian Air Force personnel are taking part in the exercise. India's Defense Ministry said the drills will include training for "air combat missions in a complex environment" and that the exercise will strengthen the "long-standing bond of friendship" between India and Japan, the Japan Times reported.

The exercises were first agreed by the two countries in 2019, but were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The two countries previously held joint exercises with their land and sea forces, but the current exercise is the first to involve fighter jets.

According to Japan's Defense Ministry, India is now the fifth country with which Japan has held a bilateral military exercise, following the US, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Members of the "Quad" have been stepping up defense and economic cooperation amid worries over China's efforts to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japan in particular has been vocal about its concerns with Beijing. In December, the Japanese government called China the "greatest strategic challenge ever" to Japan's security.

Last week, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government signed a new defense deal with the UK and agreed to expand the country's defense treaty with the US.