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Australian fighters exercise with Japanese jets for first time


An RAAF F/A-18 Hornet and an F-15 Eagle of the Japan Air Self Defence Force fly low over the Alaskan tundra during Exercise Red Flag Alaska 11-2. An Australian MoD photo

MISAWA AIR FORCE BASE, JAPAN (BNS): Australian Air Force’s F/A-18 Hornet combat jets have conducted flying operations with Japanese F-15 Eagle fighters for the first time during Exercise Red Flag 2011.

The fighter planes of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) conducted the air combat familiarisation sortie on July 14 as part of the US-led multinational exercise Red Flag Alaska-2011.

The RAAF aircraft arrived at Japan’s Misawa Air Force Base on Monday, second only to the US military to have ever flown into a JASDF base, the Australian Defence Ministry said.

“This level of high-end engagement offered the important opportunity to build on the strong friendship between Australia and Japan,” said Wing Commander Terry van Haren, Commanding Officer of RAAF’s No 3 Squadron that conducted the flying operation with JASDF’s F-15 Eagles from No 4th Air Wing.

“The large force, multi-threat environment of Red Flag enabled our fighter pilots to conduct complex missions with Japan, as well as the United States and Singapore as part of the exercise coalition force,” the officer added.

The RAAF Hornets will halt at the Japanese air base for four days as part of a bilateral exchange programme.

The multinational Exercise Red Flag Alaska 11-2, led by the United States Pacific Air Forces Command, was conducted from US Eielson Air Force Base, between 4 and 22 July. It involved US, Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

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