Japan, France begin 1st joint fighter jet exercise
French Rafale fighter jets join Japanese F-15, 2 F-2 aircraft in joint drill over southwestern Japan
By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – Japan and France began their first-ever fighter jet exercise on Thursday.
Paris has sent two Rafale fighters from the French Air and Space Force while three F-15 and two F-2 fighter jets from Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) are participating in the joint drill over southwestern Japan, according to the JASDF.
The drill, which would continue until Saturday, came amid reports that France is opposed to the idea of NATO opening its office in Tokyo.
Aerial fueling planes and transport aircraft from the countries are also accompanying the jets.
On Wednesday, the French fighter jets reached Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki province.
The air force of Japan has held joint fighter jet exercises with Germany and India since last year.
Similar joint drills with Italy and Australia are scheduled in August.
Last month, reports emerged that French President Emmanuel Macron voiced his objections to NATO's plans to establish an office in Japan, which would be the first of its kind in Asia, saying it will be a “big mistake.”
In January, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg reached an agreement to enhance their partnership.
They had acknowledged that Russia's war on Ukraine and its military collaboration with China have created “the most severe and complex security environment since the end of World War II.”
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