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Japan, India Hold First Joint Fighter Jet Exercise

Mon 16 Jan 2023 | 05:41 PM
Israa Farhan

On Monday, Japan and India kicked off their first joint military exercise involving combat aircraft, Japan's Defense Ministry said.

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

The joint exercises will last for 11 days and take place at Hyakuri Air Force Base in Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo.

Eight Japanese fighter jets are participating while India has sent four warplanes of its own, as well as two transport planes and a refueling tanker, according to Japan's defense ministry.

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

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

The two countries previously conducted joint exercises with their land and naval forces, but the current exercises are the first in which combat aircraft participate.

According to the Japanese defense ministry, India is now the fifth country with which Japan is conducting bilateral military exercises, after the US, Australia, the UK, and Germany.

Quad members have boosted defense and economic cooperation amid concerns about China's efforts to expand its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Japan in particular has been vocal about its fears of Beijing. In December, the Japanese government called China the "biggest 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.