Japan and France to launch joint fighter jet drill amid Indo-Pacific tensions 

Dassault Rafale fighter jets. Credit: VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock.com

Japan will conduct its first fighter jet drill with France, the Air Self-Defense Force of Japan (JASDF) confirmed on July 18, 2023. 

Joint tactical training is scheduled from July 26 to July 29, 2023, and will be hosted at the Nyutabaru Air Base in the Miyazaki Prefecture of Kyushu Island, Japan. Further activities should also be conducted in the airspace of eastern Japan’s Kanto region. 

Japan plans to participate with a mixture of three F-15 jets and two F-2 fighters, a KC-767 aerial refueler, and a C-2 military transport aircraft, while the French Air and Space Force (AAE) will send two Dassault Rafale jets, one Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft, and an Airbus A400M Atlas cargo plane. Around 120 French service members will be deployed. 

JASDF expressed hopes to improve its “tactical skills” during the drills with France as well as “promote mutual understanding, and further deepen defense cooperation” particularly considering China’s increasing assertive military activities in the Indo-Pacific region. 

The JASDF has also conducted its first joint drills with Germany in September 2022, and India in January 2023, within Japanese territory. 

This exercise is also part of France’s transcontinental power-projection mission, Operation Pegase 2023 that AAE is executing from June 25 to August 3, 2023, the mission involves deploying aircraft across the various regions within the Indo-Pacific, as over 90% of France’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is located there. 

“This operation marks the third consecutive demonstration of the French Air and Space Force’s ability to deploy the equivalent of a projected air base to the territories of the Pacific Ocean within a limited timeframe,” the French Ministry of Armed Forces stated. 

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