On 6 July 2017,US Air Force and Japanese Air Self-Defense Force units sharpened their combat skills in a bilateral mission over the East China Sea,the Pentagon revealed.Two B-1B Lancer strategic bombers from the 9th Expeditioinary Bomb Squadron out of Dyess Air Force Base,Texas flew from Andersen AFB,Guam for the mission with their Japanese allies.It was the first time that US Pacific Command B-1Bs have conducted combined training with Japanese fighters at night.Such bilateral drills enable the operational units to improve their combined capabilities and tactical skills,also building confidence and strong working relationships,according to the Department of Defense.
US PACOM chief of bomber operations Air Force Major Ryan Simpson said:
Flying and training at night with our allies in a safe,efficient manner is an important capability shared between the US and Japan.This is a clear demonstration of our ability to conduct seamless operations with all of our allies.*
From the East China sea,where Japan and China have a territorial dispute over the Senkaku Islands,the aircraft headed to the South China Sea,where Beijing has been intent on militarising several artificial islands it has built up from reefs,adding military-length airstrips,port and missile facilities,while claiming sovereignty of 90% of the Sea.The claim is rejected by the international community,which relies on the Sea for vital shipping lanes.
Additionally,Japan and the US are threatened by a belligerent North Korea's military buildup.*
US officials said this mission demonstrates how the US will continue to exercise the rights of freedom of navigation anywhere international law allows.These actions are consistent with long-standing and well-known US policies applied to military operations worldwide.
The officials went on to say that:
Joint US military forces in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region are always ready to defend the American homeland.These flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity between Japan and the US to defend against provocative and destabilising actions in the Pacific theatre.*
The JASDF fighters were reportedly Mitsubishi F-15J Eagles.*
Mitsubishi Corporation ADR US:OTC (MSBHY)