United States and Japanese forces recently participated in a bilateral exercise to showcase the close coordination between two allies during a time of growing concern over stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. airmen and sailors from Kadena Air Base, Japan, joined the Japan Air Self-Defense Force on Jan. 19 for the Southern Beach exercise, according to a release from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

Aircraft from various units took part in the exercise, including F-15C Eagles, the KC-135 Stratotanker, the E-3 Sentry and the HH-60 Pave Hawks, the release said. The Japanese aircraft included the F-2, the F-15J and the E-767.

The joint training mission comes as the U.S. and Japan look to strengthen their security partnership amid rising tensions from nations like China and North Korea. President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed those challenges during a bilateral meeting earlier this month.

The exercise is also on the tails of the Air Force announcing it was moving F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to Kadena, in support of an ongoing phase out of the F-15C/D Eagles in Japan.

The Navy’s P-8A Poseidon, an anti-submarine warfare aircraft, could also be seen taking to the skies for this training mission, the release added.

“Having our P-8 participating in Southern Beach underscores our capabilities of maritime operations in the Indo-Pacific theater,” Navy Cmdr. Marc Hines, Patrol Squad 10 commander, said in the release. “It points to the importance of our joint partnership with allied partners and sister services in order to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

Jonathan is a staff writer and editor of the Early Bird Brief newsletter for Military Times. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media

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