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India, Japan boost defense ties with 1st joint fighter jet drills

Allies to go beyond naval, ground forces exercises as China flexes muscles

Indian Air Force personnel prepare for drills in front of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets on Jan. 10 at Hyakuri Air Base in Ibaraki, Japan.   © Kyodo

NEW DELHI -- India and Japan are stepping up their defense cooperation with their maiden aerial combat exercise this month, going beyond their usual naval drills, against a backdrop of aggressive Chinese posturing in the region.

The exercises, "Veer Guardian-2023" conducted by the Indian Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), will take place at Hyakuri air base in Japan, starting Monday. The Indian contingent includes four Su-30 MKI fighter jets, two C-17 transport planes and one IL-78 tanker, while the JASDF is participating with four F-2 and four F-15 fighters.

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