American and Japanese warplanes show power over the Sea of ​​Japan, the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea

Seoul, South Korea

More than 50 U.S. and Japanese warplanes flew over waters near Japan this week as the two allies demonstrated power amid rising tensions in the region with China and Russia.

A dozen U.S. Air Force top-of-the-line F-22 stealth fighters, four F-35 stealth jets and 13 F-15 jets participated in the exercises, the Japanese Ministry of Defense said in a press release Thursday.

The U.S. fighter jets were joined by 20 Japanese F-15 and F-2 fighter jets and three U.S. reconnaissance and support aircraft.

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The Japanese and American fighter jets flew in the sky over the Sea of ​​Japan, the Pacific Ocean and the East China Sea in an effort to improve tactical skills and “joint responsiveness,” the Japanese Ministry of Defense said.

The U.S. Air Force did not immediately comment on this week’s exercises, but the service said in a press release last month that it had sent 12 F-22s from the Hawaii Air National Guard to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa.

The F-22s were in Japan to carry out “various missions to increase operational readiness to defend Japan and ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the U.S. statement said.

Also this week, U.S. and Japanese maritime patrol aircraft conducted an exercise near the Nansei Islands, the closest Japanese territory to Taiwan and near the Senkaku Islands, the uninhabited island chain that China also claims to refer to as Diaoyus.

This exercise was conducted to “strengthen the Japan-US Alliance’s ability to effectively deter,” the Japanese statement said.

Chinese coastguards and naval ships have spent a record amount of time in the waters around Senkakus this year, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

China’s foreign ministry told CNN earlier this year that the Chinese Coast Guard’s patrols in the waters around the islands were “an appropriate exercise of China’s sovereign right.”

Meanwhile, Chinese and Russian warships have increased their presence around Japan in recent weeks.

Late last month, Tokyo said a total of eight Chinese and Russian ships were seen in waters near Japan.

A Russian flotilla with five ships sailed near Japanese islands for a week, from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south, the ministry said in a press release.

Meanwhile, at least two Chinese warships and a supply ship were discovered in the Izu Islands, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) south of the capital Tokyo. One of these ships appeared to be Lhasa, a Type 55-guided missile destroyer and one of China’s most powerful surface ships.

This week’s exercises come as the U.S. Air Force moved some of its most vital assets to the Indo-Pacific.

Two B-2 stealth bombers deployed from their Missouri base to Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley, where they will “conduct training missions and strategic deterrence missions with allies, partners and joint forces in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the US said. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in a statement Sunday.

“This deployment of B-2 to Australia demonstrates and increases the preparedness and mortality of our long-range penetrating attack force,” said Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Kousgaard, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron in the PACAF Declaration.

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