India and Japan kicked off their first-ever joint fighter aircraft exercise on Monday as the two strategic partners continue to deepen defense and security ties amid growing concerns over China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

Named Veer Guardian-23, the aerial maneuvers were taking place in the airspace around the Air Self-Defense Force’s Hyakuri and Iruma air bases in Ibaraki Prefecture, running until Jan. 26.

The ASDF said in a statement that the purpose of the exercises is to “promote mutual understanding, strengthen defense cooperation between the air forces” and enhance the ASDF’s tactical skills.