- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fighter jets from the United States, Australia and Japan are currently flying over western Pacific skies, as military drills — called Cope North — aimed at bolstering an allied force kicked off Thursday.

“The training is not against a specific country, like China,” said Japan Air Self-Defense Force Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka, in an Associated Press report. “However, I think [the fact] that our alliance with the U.S. and Australia is healthy is a strong message.”

Alliance sorties actually started over Guam earlier this week. But those were more focused on humanitarian missions. Thursday, the training shifted to war.

The Cope North training reflects the Obama administration’s shift in the Pacific toward an air-dominated — versus land-dominated — approach to defense, that acknowledges a growing Chinese military threat, the AP reported.