Japan and the United States fly fighters after a Chinese exercise and North Korean missiles
TOKYO– Japanese and U.S. forces conducted a joint fighter jet flight over the Sea of Japan, the Japanese military said Thursday, in apparent response to a joint Russian-Chinese bomber flight as U.S. President Joe Biden was in Tokyo.
Wednesday’s joint Japan-US flight involved eight Japan-based fighter jets, including four US F-16 fighters and four Japanese F-15s, the Japan Self-Defense Forces Joint Staff said.
The joint flight was aimed at confirming the combined capabilities of the two armies and further strengthening the Japan-US alliance, he said in a statement.
The flight came hours after North Korea fired three missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, towards the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, amid concerns about another nuclear test by the North. The missiles fell in waters outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Chinese and Russian strategic bombers conducted joint flights near Japan on Tuesday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said. Biden was meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and their Indian and Australian counterparts for the Quad, an Indo-Pacific security and economic coalition meant to counterbalance China’s growing influence in the region.
Chinese H-6 bombers joined Russian TU-95s over the Sea of Japan and flew to areas over the East China Sea, but did not violate Japanese airspace, it said. said Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi. Separately, a Russian IL-20 reconnaissance aircraft was spotted flying off the northern coast of Japan.
The joint Sino-Russian flight represented an “increased level of provocation” and a threat to the Quad, Kishi said.
China said the flights were over the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea and the Western Pacific. Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said it was a “routine joint strategic air patrol” that has been carried out four times since 2019.
“This operation does not target a third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation,” he said in a video statement posted on the Defense Ministry website on Wednesday.
Associated Press writer Ken Moritsugu in Beijing contributed to this report.