The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has conducted an air-to-air refuelling exercise with Indonesian fighters, while Canberra awaits the first overseas deployment of Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) Lockheed Martin F-35As.

The refuelling work with Indonesia took place from 6-12 August in Indonesian airspace with aircraft flying from Denpasar airport, says the Australian Department of Defence.

The effort involved a single RAAF Airbus Defence & Space KC-30A multi-role tanker Ttransport (MRTT) refuelling Lockheed F-16s of the Indonesian air force. KC-30A is the local designation of the A330 MRTT.

“Australia is one of a small number of nations to have conducted refuelling training with Indonesian aircraft, boosting our interoperability with an important regional partner,” says the commanding officer of No. 86 Wing, Group Captain Brent Taylor.

“Our aviators developed their skillsets in working with a partner nation to deliver air-to-air refuelling capability, which is essential for aircraft to cross greater distances and remain within a battlespace for longer, without the need to land.”

Over 60 F-16 sorties were flown, with 200 successful refuelling boom contacts made. Sorties were conducted during both the daytime and at night.

Separately, a Japan-Australia Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) has come into effect, setting the stage for more defence cooperation between the two nations. It is Japan’s first such agreement with any nation apart from the USA.

Among other activities, JASDF F-35As will make their first international deployment to RAAF Base Tindal, Northern Territory, at the end of August.

According to the JASDF, the deployment will involve four F-35As, one Boeing KC-767 tanker, and a pair of Kawasaki C-2 transports.

The JASDF says the deployment will focus on “long-range navigation training and air-to-air-refuelling training”.

Similarly, RAAF F-35As will deploy to Japan for the first time in early September.