Italy-Japan joint exercises coming up. The countries’ Air Forces will conduct a training session next week, Tuesday through Saturday, working to foster coordination and interoperability near the Komatsu air base in Western Japan. And for the first time ever, Italy will deploy its top-of-the-line F-35 Stealth fighters.
- Rome will also send over KC-767A tankers (which Tokyo also employs, along with the F-35s), the brand-new G-550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) and C-130J tactical transport aircraft.
Zooming out. Apart from improving tactical capabilities and bolstering its Army’s effectiveness, the joint exercises are part of Italy’s efforts to strengthen relations with Japan (which became a “strategic partner” in early 2023), especially in the defence sector. It all happens as Rome is intensifying its presence in the region to support the “free and open” Indo-Pacific.
- Italian naval assets have also been deployed to sail into those waters. In June, the Morosini offshore vessel reached Japan to engage in joint training and demonstrate Rome’s commitment to the area.
- In parallel, the Italian and Japanese Air Forces agreed on a scheme to train pilots in Italy’s world-class International Flight Training School (IFTS), which recently opened a new campus in Decimomannu, Sardinia.
On the industry side, the most significant ongoing cooperation between Italy and Japan is the joint development of the sixth-generation fighter together with the United Kingdom. In late June, Italian Defence Minister Guido Crosetto welcomed his British and Japanese colleagues Ben Wallace and Atsuo Suzuki to discuss building the consortium underpinning the Global Combat Air Programme.
- The meeting followed an earlier one this past March in Japan. The next meeting is expected to happen in autumn, on British soil.