What's the intention of three European states' cross-regional exercises in Indo-Pacific?

China Military Online
Huang Panyue
2024-07-09 18:29:18

By Wang Quan

German Air Force's fighters arrive at the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska.

It is reported that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) plans to hold joint military exercises with Germany, France and Spain in July. In recent years, several European countries have successively dispatched vessels and warplanes to the Indo-Pacific, having frequent military interactions with countries in the region in various forms. This trend is worth close attention.

Reports say that at the end of 2023, the German Defense Ministry planned to hold cross-regional exercises in the Indo-Pacific with France and Spain. Half a year was spent making necessary preparations, and a formation comprised of the three countries' warplanes recently set out for the three-phase exercise Pacific Skies 2024 in the Indo-Pacific.

Their warplanes will first fly to the US across the Atlantic Ocean to participate in the multinational exercise Arctic Defender in Alaska, where the US Air Force's fifth-generation fighters will join the trilateral formation in air combat drills and live-fire shooting training.

Then the European formation will fly to Japan for the Nippon Skies exercise. It will be the first time that the German, French and Spanish air forces have been deployed in Japan simultaneously, and the first time the JASDF has held a joint training session with Spanish Air Force in Japanese airspace.

After the exercise in Japan, the German fighters will be split into two teams, one heading for Hawaii to join the German naval force that arrived earlier for the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise, and the other flying to Australia for the exercise Pitch Black together with multiple types of warplanes from over 20 countries.

At last, the warplanes of the three countries will assemble again and head for India to join the Indian and UK air forces for the first exercise Tarang Shakti: Phase 1, during which the Spanish fighters will be up against India's Su-30 MKI fighters for the first time.

It is expected that the exercise Pacific Skies 2024 will last till August 15, which will take the trilateral European fighters to a number of natural environments like ice land, desert and tropical areas across 57,940km.

Foreign media commented that Germany, France and Spain wish to announce their intention of getting involved in the Indo-Pacific affairs through the participation in Pacific Skies 2024. Some worried that their engagement in the Indo-Pacific military exercises may aggravate regional tension.

Some analysts also pointed out that the three countries designed the flying routes of their warplanes to deliberately avoid some sensitive sea areas, which means the exercises are more symbolic than substantial. In other words, they are more for show than for actual military deterrence.

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