Britain’s ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch, has revealed that Typhoon jets will overfly disputed regions of the South China Sea.
British aircraft currently exercising in Japan are expected to fly across disputed parts of the South China Sea in order to assert ‘international overflight rights’ according to Reuters.
Four Typhoon fighter aircraft, flown by No 2 (AC) Squadron pilots from RAF Lossiemouth, arrived at Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Misawa Air Base, in the northern part of the island of Honshū on Saturday.
This marks the first bilateral exercise ever in Japan for the JASDF to host with foreign military other than the U.S. The Exercise, named “Guardian North 16”, represents an opportunity for both air forces to learn from each other and develop their skills.
In a formal arrival ceremony, Commander of JASDAF Misawa Air Base, Maj Gen Koji Imaki, greeted the RAF detachment and said:
“Welcome to Japan, welcome to Guardian North. We look forward to working side by side with you in this epoch making exercise. Enjoy the long long history of Northern Japan.”
Wing Commander Roger Elliott, Officer Commanding 2(AC) Squadron and pilot of the first jet to land, said:
“Thank you for such an amazing welcome here to Misawa Air Base. I’m absolutely positive that all members of my Squadron and detachment from across the Royal Air Force, will have a tremendous experience with the JASDF.
I know that we will work together, I know that we will learn together. But most importantly I know that we will make friendships that will tie us together more closely in the future.”
RAF and JASDF exercising together in Japan delivers on an agreement made in January at the Foreign and Defence Ministers Dialogue (2+2). F-15 fighters from Northern Air Defense Force (Chitose) Air Base (Hokkaido), and F-2 fighters from Northern Air Defense Force, Misawa Air Base will take part.
Typhoons are being supported throughout the detachment by RAF C-17 transport aircraft carrying essential engineering equipment.
Exercise Eastern Venture, what the RAF are calling the deployment, begins with Typhoon aircraft deploying from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland to Malaysia and Singapore, for training as part of the Five Power Defence Arrangement between the UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
This is the first time the JASDF has hosted 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.
Chief of the Air Staff Sir Stephen Hillier said:
“This exercise is tremendously important and it demonstrates that even though the Royal Air Force is committed to operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.
We still have the capability to deploy effectively to the other side of the world, with both Typhoons, supporting Voyagers and air transport, and the Red Arrows as well. This reinforces the message that the UK is a globally-engaged player with global power, reinforcing our relationship with allies, and also promoting UK prosperity.”