After a two-delay due to adverse weather, a contingent of Italian Air Force aircraft, including four advanced F-35A fighters, arrived in Japan late Friday to kick off the service’s first-ever fighter aircraft exercise with the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF).

The drills, aimed at improving tactical skills, are yet another indication of how quickly Rome and Tokyo are expanding defense and security cooperation as their strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific converge.

As a result of the delays, the aerial maneuvers are now expected to start Monday and run through Aug. 10 in the airspace around the ASDF’s Komatsu Air Base in Ishikawa Prefecture.