BANGKOK — A group of German Air Force fighter jets landed in Singapore on Tuesday as part of a marathon to fly them some 12,800 kilometers (8,000 miles) from their home base to Southeast Asia in just 24 hours.
The exercise comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and the US and their allies over Taiwan and demonstrates a European nation’s ability to quickly move air power into the region.
In September, the European Union unveiled a new strategy for strengthening economic, political and defense relations in the Indo-Pacific. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told reporters that while the war in Ukraine is currently a priority, the Eurofighter mission underlines that Asia has not been forgotten.
“We stand on the side of all those who stand for our values such as democracy, freedom and security, and are also willing to contribute,” she said as the plane took off from Neuburg, Germany, on Monday. press agency dpa. reported.
“Our focus at the moment is obviously on the eastern flank, for which Russia’s brutal war of aggression is to blame, but we need to keep an eye on other regions as well.”
Part of the EU’s new Asia-Pacific strategy focuses on improving maritime security and ensuring safe passage over sea routes, and several European countries have sent naval assets to the region for maneuvers this year.
As China has become more assertive in the region, the United States, Britain and others have also made it more of a priority.
Germany sent the frigate Bayern to the region for a nearly seven-month deployment that ended earlier this year, the first time a German warship has been in the Indo-Pacific in nearly two decades. It participated in joint exercises with allies including Australia, Singapore, Japan and the United States, and was denied a port call in China.
The six multi-role Eurofighter fighter jets involved in the current exercise were joined by four transport aircraft and three tankers. They were refueled in the air during the long flight and also stopped along the way for refueling, inspection and rotations of pilots.
During a stop at a base near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Tuesday, the German air force, the Luftwaffe, said two of the Eurofighters had technical problems. One was repaired on site, but the other had a malfunction in the hydraulic system and was thus held back.
The Luftwaffe said personnel had been sent from Germany to further repair it so that it would be available for upcoming exercises in Australia, where all planes are flying after Singapore.
The so-called Pitch Black exercise will bring together some 2,500 personnel and 100 aircraft from around the world in Australia’s Northern Territory over three weeks.
In addition to Germany, European NATO members France, Great Britain and the Netherlands are also taking part, along with the United States, New Zealand, Korea, UAE, India, Japan, Thailand and others.
The exercise is designed to test and improve the integration of multinational forces, and to “recognize Australia’s strong relationships and the high value we place on regional security and foster closer ties in the Indo-Pacific region,” the exercise said. Royal Australian Air Force.
After the Aug. 19-Sept. 8 exercise in Australia, the German jets on their way home will stop in Japan and South Korea.
This story corrects the distance the planes travel.
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