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India, Japan to hold maiden bilateral air exercise

NEW DELHI  (PTI):  India and Japan will hold their first bilateral air exercise from January 12 to 26, in reflection of the growing defence ties amid increasing concerns over China's military muscle flexing in the Indo-Pacific region.

The exercise 'Veer Guardian-2023' involving the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) will be held at Japan's Hyakuri air base.

The IAF said last Saturday that its deployment at the exercise will include four Su-30 MKI jets, two C-17 aircraft and one IL-78 plane.

The JASDF will be participating with four F-2 and four F-15 aircraft, it said.

"To promote Air Defence cooperation between the countries, India and Japan are all set to hold the joint air exercise, 'Veer Guardian-2023'," the IAF said in a statement.

India and Japan agreed to step up bilateral defence cooperation and engage in more military exercises, including holding of the first joint fighter jet drills, during the second '2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministerial' dialogue in Tokyo in September.

The IAF said the upcoming exercise will be another step in deepening strategic ties and closer defence cooperation between the two countries.

"The inaugural exercise will include the conduct of various aerial combat drills between the two air forces. They will undertake multi-domain air combat missions in a complex environment and will exchange best practices," the IAF said.

It said experts from both sides will also hold discussions to share their expertise on varied operational aspects.

"Exercise 'Veer Guardian' will fortify the long standing bond of friendship and enhance the avenues of defence cooperation between the two air forces," it said.

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