British Typhoon combat aircraft are heading to Japan to join the first-ever UK-Japan joint fighter exercise.

Four Typhoons from No. 2 (AC) Squadron will be visiting Japan with Voyager and C-17 aircraft. The JASDF will be participating with F-2 and F-15 fighter aircraft.

According to a press release, the Chief of Staff of the Japanese Air Self Defence Force, General Yoshiyuki Sugiyama, announced that the first-ever UK-Japan Fighter Exercise would be hosted at JASDF Misawa Air Base from mid-October to early November.

This is the first time for the JASDF to host an exercise with a foreign nation other than the United States. The Exercise will be aimed at enhancing interoperability to deepen the UK and Japan’s partnership in security and defence.

Earlier in the year it was revealed that Japan and the UK are moving forward with efforts to develop a new joint air-to-air missile.

The project is understood to be supported by a successfully conducted project to integrate Japanese seeker technologies into MBDA’s Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile.

Meteor is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile being developed by MBDA. Meteor will offer a multi-shot capability against long range manoeuvring targets in a heavy electronic countermeasures environment with range in excess of 100km.

MBDA is planning integration of Meteor on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Block 4. The Meteor has already been checked for fit in the internal weapons bays of the JSF. It is compatible with the aircraft’s internal air-to-ground stations, but would require modification of the fin span and air intakes to be compatible with the air-to-air stations.

It is understood that it is in this context, MBDA has agreed to jointly research a new seeker with Japan.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

“Japan is our closest security partner in Asia and I want to significantly deepen defence cooperation between our two nations.

We will do that through joint exercises, reciprocal access to our military bases, military personnel exchanges and cooperation on equipment, including a new air-to-air missile.”

According to the MoD, the joint exercise has been named ‘GUARDIAN NORTH 16’ to represent the role of the JASDF and RAF as the guardians of security and the exercise area of Northern Japan.

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