• RAF Eurofighter Typhoons.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoons. (Photo : RAF)

The United Kingdom's Royal Air Force (RAF) has dramatically increased its visibility in Asia amid simmering tensions with China by participating in two large-scale aerial drills with two of China's foes: South Korea and Japan.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) will conduct its first ever Japan-based exercise with a foreign nation other than the U.S. on Oct. 21 when four RAF Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighter jets land at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture.

Like Us on Facebook

The Typhoons will arrive Oct. 21 and will join drills with JASDF fighters scheduled from Oct. 24 through Nov. 6. Japanese pilots will fly Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle air superiority fighters and Mitsubishi F-2 multirole fighters during the joint drill dubbed "Exercise Guardian North 16."

Japan's Ministry of Defense said the exercise will involve air defense, dogfighting and ground-attack training. Some 200 British personnel will participate in the exercise that will sharpen the skills of pilots and hone the abilities of British and Japanese commanders to work together, said the ministry.

The RAF Eurofighter Typhoons that will journey to Japan will be accompanied by "Voyager" Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aerial tankers and Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft.

"The U.K. and Japan share common values such as democracy and the rule of law," said the British Embassy in Tokyo. "Guardian North 16 represents the deepening partnership in security and defense."

After this historic combined aerial exercise, the RAF fleet will proceed to South Korea for its first aerial exercise with the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). The joint exercises that will also involve the U.S. Air Force is called Invincible Shield and will be held from Nov. 4 to 10. It will include a combined aerial drill at Osan Air Base 40 miles from Seoul.

"The exercise being held between (South Korea), U.K. and U.S. is not designed to train for any specific operations or offer any message to any other nation in the region, but rather, is purely an exercise designed for international engagement to reinforce our relationships with partners, interoperability training and sharing of knowledge and best practice," said an RAF spokesman.

The deployments of the Typhoons to Asia will be the furthest yet for this aircraft, which is the backbone of the legendary RAF fighter force. The drills will allow the RAF to practice the methods needed to quickly reinforce its Asian allies should conflict erupt in Asia.