The Air Self-Defense Force and the U.S. Marine Corps began Wednesday their first joint exercise involving F-35 fighter jets deployed to Japan at an air base in the country's northeastern area.
The ASDF's F-35A, the first of its kind deployed to Japan, and around eight F-35Bs from the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, will take part in combat training and bombing exercises through May 24, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.
Japan deployed the F-35A stealth fighter at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in January to respond to airspace incursions and engage in surveillance activity on North Korea.
The drills, aimed at improving cooperation between the ASDF and the U.S. military, will not be conducted at night, in the early morning or on the weekend, according to the ministry.
(F-35B, file photo)
F-35s are equipped with high-performance radar that can detect ballistic missiles and are capable of evading radar detection.
The F-35B, the U.S. Marines' variant of the F-35, is capable of making short takeoffs and vertical landings.
The ASDF aims to eventually acquire a total of 42 F-35A planes, which will serve as the successor to the aging F-4 fighter.