Japan and France on Thursday began their first-ever joint fighter jet drills as part of efforts to boost their security partnership amid China's growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Three F-15 and two F-2 fighter jets from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and two Rafale fighters from the French Air and Space Force will conduct training until Saturday in the southwestern Japan skies near Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture, the ASDF said.

A Rafale fighter from the French Air and Space Force is pictured on July 26, 2023, after arriving at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force's Nyutabaru Air Base in Miyazaki Prefecture. (Kyodo)

The fighter planes, accompanied by an aerial fueling plane and a transport aircraft from each country, also plan to fly above the Kanto region, which centers on Tokyo, according to the ASDF.

The Rafale warplanes arrived at the Nyutabaru base on Wednesday, welcomed by ASDF Chief of Staff Hiroaki Uchikura and senior officers from the French military.

The exercises come as France and other NATO members have been expanding their defense cooperation with Tokyo, with the trans-Atlantic alliance becoming more vigilant of Beijing's military buildup and provocative behavior in the East and South China seas, among other areas.

Since last year, the ASDF has held joint fighter jet exercises in Japan with Germany and India. It will also host similar training with Italy from next week and Australia from late August.