India-Japan to conduct exercise using fighter jets

IDD Bureau

Air forces of India and Japan will conduct their first-ever joint exercise using fighter jets.  The exercise will be in Japan, the two countries agreed to start coordination for the conduct of the exercise  which holds multiple strategic signals for the Indo-Pacific region. In the past few years India and Japan have been deepening military and strategic ties.

The decision was announced in a joint statement, on November 30, after the first India-Japan 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi. Indian Defence Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar represented India while Japan was represented by its Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu, and Minister of Defense  Kono Taro.

The 2+2 meeting. From left : Japan’s foriegn minister Motegi Toshimitsu, Japan’s Defence Kono Taro, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar, in New Delhi on Nov 30.

The Ministers also concurred to proceed with coordination for the first India-Japan joint fighter aircraft exercise in Japan”, the joint statement said.

Within the strategic circles this is seen an upgrade of ties. In the month of October 2019 the two land forces conducted the joint Military exercise ‘Dharma Guardian’ at the counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School, Vairengte from Oct 19 to Nov 2. Japan is already part of the exercise Malabar which also has Navies of India and US. Since last year India and Japan have initiated bilateral exercises between all three components of their defence forces.  The two sides shared a view to make continuous efforts for holding the bilateral exercises between the defence forces regularly and further expanding the same.

The Upgrade:   The Indian Air Force and the Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) carried out the joint military exercise ‘Shinyuu Maitri’ from October 17 to 23 at Panagarh in West Bengal. The focus of the exercise was to undertake Joint Mobility and Tactical inter-operability among the two forces. Both the countries use e different versions of the C-130 tactical lift aircraft made by Lockheed Martin and was easier to operate jointly.

The upgrade in the forthcoming exercise will be to jointly operate fighter jets and this will involve a different kind of skill and communication. Also both countries have vastly different jets.

Complexity of the exercise: India uses a mix of largely Russian origin platforms like the Sukhoi 30 MKI and the MiG 29 besides the Jaguar from Britain and Mirage from France. The Japanese rely on US platforms which they have modified  and improved upon. The JASDF is very highly regarded and is  equipped with some of the best avionics, radars, and missiles in the world.

The JASDF has just started acquiring the J-35 the fifth generation fighter jets made by US. The Japanese also use a Mitsubishi F-2, a design that resembles an upgraded F-16 with stealth features. It has larger engine intake, an operational AESA radar and larger control surfaces.  Japan has also upgraded its Boeing F-15 fleet and have a different electronic warfare and internal countermeasures equipment and missiles that match the Russian Sukhoi30.

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