Tokyo, Jan 16 (EFE).- Japan and India began their first-ever joint fighter jet drills on Monday, the Japanese defense ministry announced.
The exercises are being carried out at the Hyakuri Air Base in the northeastern Ibaraki prefecture, located northeast of Tokyo, and will conclude on Jan. 26, the ministry said.
Eight Japanese fighters along with four from the Indian Air Force as well as two transport planes and an aerial refueling tanker are taking part in the training, which is the countries’ latest effort to boost defense ties amid China’s rising military power in the Indo-Pacific region.
The drill was first agreed upon by the countries’ foreign and defense ministers at a security meeting in New Delhi in November 2019 but was postponed on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a similar meeting in September last year, both countries agreed to strengthen their collaboration on security through specific initiatives, including joint maneuvers, towards the “common strategic goal of achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific, that is inclusive and resilient, based on the rule of law and free from coercion.”
Both Japan and India have opted to boost their military capabilities amid territorial disputes with China and growing tensions in the Indo-Pacific.
India is also the fifth country with which Japan has conducted joint drills apart from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany, according to the Japanese defense ministry.
Japan and India are also members of the Quad – along with Australia and the US -, a multilateral security framework that seeks to counter Beijing’s growing influence in the region
The last Quad summit was held in Tokyo in May last year. EFE