Australian fighter jets arrive in Japan for first training under new deal

Australian fighter jets arrived in central Japan on Wednesday to take part in the country’s first joint exercise with the Japanese self-defense forces since a new bilateral agreement to strengthen defense cooperation came into effect.

Nine Royal Australian Air Force aircraft, including six F-35A fighters, and about 140 personnel are joining the exercise, officially scheduled for August 23 to September 15, in the skies around Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa Prefecture, according to Japan’s Air Help. – Defense Force.

From Japan, 21 aircraft, including six F-35As and F-15 and F-2 fighter jets, will participate, the ASDF said.

This photo shows a Royal Australian Air Force F-35A fighter jet at Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa Prefecture, central Japan on August 30, 2023. (Kyoto)

On August 13, the Japan-Australia Mutual Access Agreement came into effect after the two governments signed it in January 2022, seeking to boost their defense partnership amid China’s growing military presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Similar to Japan’s current Status of Forces Agreement with the United States, the first RAA for Tokyo is expected to facilitate rapid divisional deployment of forces between the two sides.

The agreement will also ease restrictions on the movement of arms and supplies for joint exercises and disaster relief operations.

Parliamentary Deputy Defense Minister Kimi Onoda and Minister and Deputy Head of the Australian Embassy in Japan Peter Roberts welcomed the Australian aircraft at the Komatsu base.

Japan’s Parliamentary Vice Minister for Defense Kimi Onoda (R) briefs Peter Roberts (L), Minister and Deputy Head of the Australian Embassy in Japan, at Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa Prefecture, central Japan, on August 30, 2023. (Kyoto)

„Strengthened Japan-Australia cooperation is directly linked to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” Onoda said in a speech, while Roberts highlighted the importance of ties with Japan, calling it an „indispensable partner”.

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On Monday, Tokyo and Canberra conducted their separate fighter exercises in Australia, the first overseas flight of the ASDF’s F-35A fighter jets, according to the Australian government.

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