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Meeting of Defense Ministers of US, Japan and Australia Announces Trilateral F-35A, Air and Missile Defense Exercises

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-35As will deploy again to Japan next year to participate in the Bushido Guardian exercise alongside the United States Air Force (USAF) F-35As. The deployment, announced as part of the May 4 meeting of the Defense Ministers of Australia, the United States and Japan (TDMM), is one of three major trilateral F-35A training exercises scheduled for the next two years in all three countries are scheduled, in addition to Exercise Cope North 2024 in Guam. and Exercise Pitch Black 2026 in Australia.

During the meeting, the three countries also agreed to continue cooperation towards a networked air and missile defense architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, including enhanced exchange of missile defense information and coordination of the introduction of future capabilities between the three countries.

The air and missile defense initiative will be operationalized as part of Exercise Talisman Saber 2027, which will bring together units and capabilities from the US Department of Defense, the Australian Defense Force (ADF) and the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) to build a regional air and missile defense exercise with live fire.

In the shorter term, air and missile defense cooperation will be strengthened by more regular and complex intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) cooperation between the three countries.

In recent years, this cooperation has expanded in scope and complexity, with the three countries previously completing combined ISR operations in the maritime and air domains.

JSDF asset protection missions – a legal mechanism that allows Japanese military assets to protect Australian and US forces across Japan – will also be expanded and “normalised”, according to ministers.

The missions, made possible by Japan’s 2014 peace and security law, will also be expanded to include other partners, although they have not been named. Initially, the laws only covered operations with the US; however, in 2021 they were expanded to include Australia.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the three countries also signed a new trilateral research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) project agreement, which Defense Secretary Richard Marles said would ensure “much greater cooperation between our countries in the field of defence”. science and technology.”

The full statement can be found here.