Tokyo, Mar 15 (EFE).- The Japanese and United States air forces held their joint aviation defense drills last week, using F-35A advanced stealth fighter jets for the first time amid raging military tensions in the region, an official statement said Tuesday.
The two forces held the air-to-air combat training west of Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture and involved four F-35As from Japan and four from the US, said the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.
The “air combat maneuver training” took place last week in the north of the archipelago “to enhance the Japan-US bilateral response capabilities and improve tactical skills,” the statement said.
It was “the first bilateral training by F-35As of JASDF and US Air Force,” the Japanese air force said.
The two forces implemented preventive measures against Covid-19 during the exercise, said the statement.
The exercise marked “a major milestone in the improvement of the ASDF’s ability and Japan-US joint response capabilities,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Japan first deployed F-35A stealth fighters to Misawa in 2018 for surveillance and reconnaissance missions of North Korean activities.
Since then, it has continuously been reinforcing the acquisition of the 5th generation fighters with very low observable stealth, advanced sensors, information fusion, and network connectivity.
Japan is eyeing to acquire 147 of these supersonic, long-range, and highly maneuverable fighters in its fleet amid an increase in the Chinese military activities in the region, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and North Korea’s one after the other weapons test this year.
The F-35A model is considered the most sophisticated combat aircraft, designed to evade radar and equipped with ballistic missile detection equipment.
The advanced jets would replace around half of Japan’s aging F-15J fleet.
Earlier, the US and Japan held their largest amphibious exercises involving approximately 1,000 troops in the backdrop of growing military tension in the Pacific.
The exercise lasted for three weeks.
Chinese has increased its military activities in recent months in waters around the Japanese archipelago, and in particular near the Senkaku, in the East China Sea, administered by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing and Taiwan. EFE