MELBOURNE, Australia — Indian Air Force fighter jets have made their first deployment to Japan to take part in the long-delayed exercise Veer Guardian.

The event, scheduled to run Jan 12-26, will see four Indian Sukhoi Su-30MKI Flanker multirole fighters train with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

The aircraft landed Tuesday at Japan’s Hyakuri Air Base, 80 miles north of the capital Tokyo. Two Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlifters and an Il-78 tanker accompanied the jets.

The C-17s transported personnel and equipment for the exercise, while the Il-78 provided refuelling support to the Su-30MKIs. The jets made transit stops in Thailand and the Philippines on their way to Japan.

According to a news release issued by the Japanese force, the Su-30MKIs are from the Indian Air Force’s No. 220 Squadron based at Halwara in the northern state of Punjab.

The Japanese participants at Veer Guardian will include the Mitsubishi F-2s of the 7th Air Wing and the F-15J Eagle interceptors of the Air Tactics Development Wing. The latter is the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s aggressor unit, which plays the role of the enemy during training.

Veer Guardian was originally scheduled for 2020, but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian and Japanese air forces had carried out bilateral fighter training in 2019, code-named Shinyuu Maitri in India. Veer Guardian is the reciprocal training event in Japan.

India and Japan were also recently part of the Malabar naval exercise in November 2021 that involved the United States and Australia.

India and Japan had also carried out the bilateral air and naval exercise JIMEX off the former’s coast in September 2021.

The two Asian nations have fostered closer defense relations in recent years, and they are part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue — more commonly known as the Quad, a strategic security dialogue that also includes Australia and the United States.

Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.

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