JASDF readies F-35As for first overseas exercise

The first Mitsubishi assembled F-35A was unveiled in Nagoya Japan on 5 June 2017. (Lockheed Martin)

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is readying its fifth-generation Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters for the type’s first international drill in Japanese service in northern Australia, the JASDF announced in a 14 August statement.

According to the JASDF, four F-35A aircraft operated by the 3rd Air Wing at Misawa will undertake a two-week deployment that will comprise exercises from Andersen Air Force Base on the US territory of Guam and RAAF Darwin and Tindal in Australia’s Northern Territory.

The announcement of the exercises comes as the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Japan and Australia enters into force. The RAA is designed to spur greater cooperation between their respective defence forces.

This is the first visiting forces agreement Japan has brokered with a country other than the United states, and will initially see both countries increase their engagement via joint military training activities.

“The Reciprocal Access Agreement will deepen the relationship between our respective defence forces, supporting closer cooperation and strengthening the capabilities of both the ADF and the JSDF,” said Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles.

“Both Australia and Japan recognise the increasing complexity of our security environment and the need to grow our partnership to support a stable and prosperous region,” added Marles.

The JASDF F-35A aircraft will be supported by one of the service’s Boeing KC-767 tanker, as well as a Lockheed-Martin C-130 Hercules and two Kawasaki C-2 transport aircraft.

Meanwhile, as part of the agreement the Royal Australian Air Force F-35As will also deploy to Japan in early September for a joint air combat training drill called Exercise Bushido Guardian.

The Australian Defence Force will also participate in the land warfare-oriented Exercise Yama Sakura as a full participant for the first time with more than 150 personnel travelling to Japan in December.

by Jr Ng