Philippine Air Force joins multinational drill in Australia

Several Philippine Air Force fighter jets have arrived in Australia to take part in a multi-nation exercise. This is the country's first overseas deployment of an air force contingent for combat practice.

It comes as tensions between Manila and Beijing have been rising over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The Pitch Black war games are a biennial exercise organized by the Royal Australian Air Force. This year's drills will run from Friday until August 2.

Four Philippine FA-50 fighter jets and more than 100 Filipino service members will take part. They'll join personnel from 19 other countries, including the US and Japan.

A Philippine Air Force official says the country's participation is a testament to Manila's commitment to enhancing its operational capabilities and international partnerships.

The Philippines has been facing an increasingly assertive China in disputed waters in the South China Sea. Manila says Chinese coast guard and navy vessels have repeatedly harassed its ships in the Philippine's exclusive economic zone.

The Philippines is seeking to strengthen security cooperation with the US and its allies.

On Monday, Manila and Tokyo signed a pact to facilitate joint drills between the Philippine military and Japan's Self-Defense Forces. The Reciprocal Access Agreement lays out rules on the handling of weapons and ammunition during joint training, and jurisdiction over crimes and accidents.