Reagan Strike Group Starts Drills with Korean Navy; Russian, Chinese Ships Spotted off Alaska

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) began drills with the Republic of Korea Navy in the East Sea on Monday, the U.S. Navy announced. The Maritime Counter-Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) in the East Sea with the ROKN, through Thursday, the service said. U.S. Navy units participating in the exercise are carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) with […]

A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook lands on the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), in the waters east of the Korean peninsula on Sept. 26, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) began drills with the Republic of Korea Navy in the East Sea on Monday, the U.S. Navy announced.

The Maritime Counter-Special Operations Exercise (MCSOFEX) in the East Sea with the ROKN, through Thursday, the service said. U.S. Navy units participating in the exercise are carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) Five, cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), destroyers USS Barry (DDG-52) and USS Benfold (DDG-65) and staff from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Five, according to the release. The Army’s 2nd Combat Air Brigade and U.S. Air Force’s 7th Air Force joined with units from U.S. Special Operations Command Korea for the exercises.

“Our combined ROK-U.S. naval force is demonstrating its strength and resolve by conducting this exercise together to build our combat readiness,” said Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70/CSG 5, in the release.

The bilateral exercise includes live fire, surface warfare, anti-submarine and anti-air drills.

“This exercise will improve ROK-U.S. combined operational capabilities and bolstered interoperability,” said Rear Adm. Kwak, Kwang Sub, commander, ROK Navy Maritime Battle Group (MBG) 1, in the release. “Two navies will continue to maintaining combined naval defense posture based on iron-clad ROK-U.S. alliance.”

Russia, Chinese Warships Spotted near Alaska

A Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crewmember observing a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, September 19, 2022. Coast Guard Photo

On Monday, the U.S Coast Guard issued a release stating that the joint Russian Navy – People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Action group was sighted sailing approximately 75 nautical miles north of Kiska Island, Alaska, on Sept. 19.

According to the release, USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756) was on a routine patrol that day when it encountered a PLAN cruiser with the pennant number 101, which corresponds to CNS Nanchang (101) though China considers the ship as a destroyer.

Kimball later identified two more Chinese naval vessels and four Russian naval vessels, including a Russian Navy destroyer, all in a single formation with Nanchang as a combined surface action group operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), according to the release.

As a result of the sighting, Kimball is now operating under Operation Frontier Sentinel, a Seventeenth Coast Guard District operation designed to meet presence with presence when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters.

“The U.S. Coast Guard’s presence strengthens the international rules-based order and promotes the conduct of operations in a manner that follows international norms. While the surface action group was temporary in nature, and Kimball observed it disperse, the Kimball will continue to monitor activities in the U.S. EEZ to ensure the safety of U.S. vessels and international commerce in the area,” according to the release, which also added that a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules air crew provided support to the Kimball’s Operation Frontier Sentinel activities.

Coast Guard cutters deployed to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean also encountered Chinese naval vessels, including a surface action group transiting approximately 50 miles off the Aleutian Island chain, in September 2021.

“While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms,” said Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander in the release, “we will meet presence-with-presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”

The Russian Navy – PLAN surface action group consists of Russian Navy destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543), corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333), RFS Gromkiy (335) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339), and replenishment ship Pechanga, while the PLAN contingent consist of Nanchang, frigate CNS Yancheng (546) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902).

The two navies have been working together to carry out a joint naval patrol in the Pacific Ocean, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Sept. 15.

On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement saying that the group had held a number of drills, including search and rescue rehearsals and air defense exercises, as part of joint patrols in the Pacific Ocean.

The statement also said the group had been practicing maneuvers using various formations and establishing communication links between the vessels and that several joint and individual exercises were conducted to work out anti-submarine missions, search and rescue operations at sea and execute air defense tasks, with flights performed by antisubmarine and rescue ship-based helicopters.

The Russian and Chinese warships have sailed more than 3,000 nautical miles in the past 12 days and are continuing their patrols, according to the release.

PLAN ships have also been sighted transiting through Japanese straits, according to Japan Ministry of Defense releases.

On Monday, the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defence issued two releases with the first release stating that at around 8 a.m. Friday, a PLAN destroyer, frigate and replenishment ship were sighted sailing southeast in an area 180km north of Miyako Island before they sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait ,which lies between Miyako Island and Okinawa. The PLAN ships were identified as destroyer CNS Huainan (123), frigate CNS Rizhao (598) and replenishment ship CNS Kekexilihu (968).

The three ships form the PLAN 42nd China Naval Escort Task Force, which left their homeport on Sept. 21 for the Gulf of Aden to conduct anti-piracy escort missions there. The task force is now in the South China Sea, according to a release from China’s Ministry of National Defense.

The JSO release stated that the PLAN ships were monitored by Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Inazuma (DD-105) and minesweeper JS Shishijima (MSC-691), a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Field, Kyushu, and a P-3C Orion of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa.

The second JSO release stated that at noon Friday, a PLAN Dongdiao class surveillance vessel, hull number 796, was sighted sailing east in an area 100 km southwest of Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, and subsequently sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait in the Sea of Japan.

Minesweepers JS Toyoshima (MSC-685) and JS Ukushima (MSC-686) and fast attack craft JS Umitaka (PG-828) shadowed the PLAN ship.

The JSO issued another release Tuesday after a PLAN Dongdiao class surveillance vessel with the hull number 794 was sighted around 4 p.m. Monday sailing northwest in an area 140km east of Miyako Island. The ship then sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait and into the East China Sea.

Dongdiao 794 previously sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait on Aug. 28, and Toyoshima and a JMSDF P-3C Orion of Fleet Air Wing 5 shadowed the PLAN ship.

Over in Yokosuka, destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) and LCS USS Oakland (LCS-24) arrived at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) on Monday for scheduled port visits.

Japan Issues Special Typhoon Warning As ‘Unprecedented’ Storm Approaches

TOKYO, Sept 17 (Reuters) – The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a special typhoon warning on Saturday for Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, as the region braces for…

TOKYO, Sept 17 (Reuters) – The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a special typhoon warning on Saturday for Kagoshima prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, as the region braces for...

U.S., Japanese Defense Chiefs Reaffirm Alliance in Pentagon Meeting

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada reaffirmed their commitment to an alliance on Wednesday during the defense secretaries’ first meeting since Hamada’s appointment in August. The U.S.-Japan Alliance remains a cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and both countries are bound by deep friendship and trust, Austin said […]

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts Japan’s Minister of Defense Yasukazu Hamada for talks at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Sept. 14, 2022. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada reaffirmed their commitment to an alliance on Wednesday during the defense secretaries’ first meeting since Hamada’s appointment in August.
The U.S.-Japan Alliance remains a cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and both countries are bound by deep friendship and trust, Austin said during his welcoming remarks. The two countries share common interests and a vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, as well as a rules-based international order, he added.

“But China’s recent aggressive behavior and Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine are serious challenges to that vision,” Austin said. “So let’s be clear. China’s coercive actions in the Taiwan Strait and in the waters surrounding Japan are provocative, destabilizing and unprecedented.”

In his remarks during the welcoming, Hamada said, “We have seen various events that are of concern for the Japan-U.S. alliance, one after another, including Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the landing of China’s ballistic missiles near waters of Japan, and China and Russia’s joint exercise around Japan. We can never condone unilateral attempts to change the status quo in any parts of the world”.

Austin reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to the defense of Japan, which includes the U.S. commitment to credible and resilient extended deterrence “using the full range of our conventional and nuclear capabilities.” Hamada said he would cooperate with Austin to make sure that that the extended deterrence, including nuclear capabilities, remains credible and resilient.

The two defense chiefs held a 95 minute discussion on a variety of items, according to a Japan Ministry of Defense news release on the meeting. They criticized China’s ballistic missile launches last month and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and also highlighted how crucial it is to maintain calm in the Taiwan Strait.

“Regarding North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues, the Ministers welcomed the Japan-U.S.-ROK exercise during the missile warning exercise Pacific Dragon in August. The Ministers confirmed that they would further advance even closer Japan-U.S. bilateral and Japan-U.S.-ROK trilateral cooperation in order to promptly respond to North Korea’s provocative actions in a concerted manner,” the release reads.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday announced that Russia and China are carrying out a joint naval patrol in the Pacific Ocean.

“As part of the implementation of the program of international military cooperation, warships of the Russian Navy and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Naval Forces are conducting a second joint patrolling in the Pacific Ocean,” the ministry said in its release, adding that the patrolling mission is meant to strengthen naval cooperation between Russia and China, maintain peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region, monitor sea waters, and protect Russian and Chinese maritime economic activity.

Russian Navy ships involved in the patrol include destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543); corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333), RFS Gromkiy (335) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339); and replenishment ship Pechanga. The People’s Army Liberation Navy contingent includes destroyer CNS Nanchang (101), frigate CNS Yancheng (546) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902).

Nanchang, Yancheng and Dongpinghu took part in Russia’s Vostok 2022 strategic drill, which ended on Sept. 7. The PLAN ships – along with Sovershennyy, Gromkiy and Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapovconducted drills and live firing in the Sea of Japan on Sept. 3 before sailing east through La Pérouse Strait the next day. This is the second time Russian and Chinese ships have carried out a joint naval patrol; the first occasion was last October.

At the same time, other Russian and PLAN ships have been active around Japan, with a PLAN hydrographic survey ship violating Japan’s territorial waters on Thursday, according to the MoD. Japan’s Ministry of Defense issued a news release on Thursday claiming that a Shupang-class survey ship was sighted at 3:30 a.m. local time that day sailing westward in Japan’s contiguous zone south-southeast of Tanegashima Island, part of the Osumi islands. Later, at 7:20 a.m., the PLAN ship entered Japanese territorial waters south of Yakushima Island before leaving Japan’s territorial waters west of Kuchinoerabu Island at 10:52 a.m. JMSDF destroyer JS Inazuma (DD-105) and a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base, Kyushu monitored the PLAN ship. Japanese media reports said Tokyo has lodged a diplomatic protest on the incident.

Meanwhile the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Japan Ministry of Defense issued news releases reporting on separate transits of Russian Navy and PLAN ships near Japan. On Sunday at 8 a.m. local time, two Russian Navy corvettes were sighted sailing east in an area 50 kilometers northwest of Rebun Island, Hokkaido, according to a Monday JSO release. Hull number and images provided identified the ships as RFS R-29 (916) and RFS R-261 (991). Both ships subsequently sailed east through La Pérouse Strait while fast attack craft JS Kumataka (PG-827) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 2 stationed at JMSDF Hachinohe Air Base, Honshu monitored.

At 2 p.m. local time on Monday, two PLAN destroyers were sighted and subsequently sailed northeast in the waters between Amami Oshima Island and Yokoate Island and entered the Pacific Ocean, a Tuesday JSO news release said. Hull numbers and images provided identified the PLAN destroyers as CNS Changchun (150) and CNS Zhengzhou (151). Japanese destroyers JS Fuyuzuki (DD-118) and JS Yugiri (DD-153) shadowed the PLAN ships, according to the JSO. The two PLAN destroyers were then sighted on Wednesday at 7 a.m. sailing northwest through the Miyako Strait and into the East China Sea, according to a JSO release issued that day. Fuyuzuki and Yugiri also monitored those PLAN destroyers.

Meanwhile, Japanese helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110) – which form the first surface unit of the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) – are now exercising in the Bay of Bengal with the Indian Navy after exercising with the U.S. Navy and Royal Canadian Navy last week in the South China Sea for Exercise Noble Raven 22.


From Sunday until Saturday, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force will perform an exercie known as the Japan-India Maritime Exercise 2022 (JIMEX2022) with the Indian Navy, according to a JMSDF news release issued on Tuesday. The objective is to better the tactical capabilities of the JMSDF and interoperability with the Indian Navy. Izumo and Takanami will drill with destroyer INS Ranvijay (D55), frigate INS Sahyadri (F49), corvettes INS Kadmatt (P29) and INS Kavaratti (P31), offshore patrol vessel INS Sukanya (P50), replenishment ship INS Jyoti (A58) and submarines. Mig-29K fighters, P-8I Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircrafts (MPA) and Do-228 MPAs from the Indian Navy are also participating. Training activities in the exercise include anti-submarine warfare, surface gunnery, air defense warfare, replenishment at sea and anti-aircraft gunnery, according to the release.

The IPD22 is a four-month deployment JMSDF throughout the Indo-Pacific region from June 13 through Oct. 28 that has been conducted annually since 2019. This year’s iteration includes two surface units, the first featuring Izumo and Takanami, while the second surface unit includes destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104). While a JMSDF submarine, a P-1 MPA, a UP-3D Orion Electronic Intelligence training aircraft and a US-2 search and rescue seaplane are also on the deployment, the submarine and aircraft will only participate in some of the surface units’ engagements. Kirisame, the second surface unit, left Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Sept. 6 following an engagement there and is now in Darwin for the Royal Australian Navy Exercise Kakadu 2022 (KA22), which takes place from Sept. 12-24.


“[M]ore than 15 vessels, more than 30 aircraft and around 3,000 personnel from more than 20 countries,” will join for the drills, according to an Australian Department of Defense news release. The release did not disclose which ships and countries are participating.

A Royal Australian Navy social media post later announced the names of the countries involved: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Thailand, Timor Leste, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the U.S. and Vanuatu.

“Exercise Kakadu provides an excellent opportunity for regional partners to undertake multinational maritime activities ranging from constabulary operations to high-end maritime warfare in a combined environment,” Rear Admiral Jonathan Earley, commander of the Australian Fleet, said in the Australian DoD news release.

Several countries, namely Fiji, France, India, Indonesia and Malaysia, have already announced their participation in the exercise, along with the ships deployed for it. Fiji is participating with patrol craft RFNS Savenaca (401) and a social media post by the Republic of Fiji Navy shows that the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Henry (WPC-1140) is also participating in the exercise.

France has deployed frigate Vendémiaire (F734) for the exercise, while India is participating with frigate INS Satpura (F48) and an Indian Navy P-8I MPA.

Satpura is on an extended operation deployment to the Pacific that began at the end of May and included participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise. Prior to arriving in Darwin, the Indian frigate stopped in Fiji for a port call from Sept. 1-3.

Indonesia and Malaysia have each sent a frigate: KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331) and KD Lekiu (FFGH30), respectively. Lekiu on Sunday conducting a replenishment at sea exercise with replenishment ship HMAS Stalwart (A304).

Japan, Canada Wrap Western Pacific Drills with U.S., USS Tripoli Underway in South China Sea

Japan, Canada and the United States wrapped up Noble Raven 22 this week, an exercise that took place in the waters from Guam to the South China Sea, according to a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force news release. The exercise, which included tactical training, began on Aug. 30 and featured JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) […]

Noble Raven – JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), RCN frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) and replenishment ship USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) conduct a joint sail during exercise Noble Raven.

Japan, Canada and the United States wrapped up Noble Raven 22 this week, an exercise that took place in the waters from Guam to the South China Sea, according to a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force news release.

The exercise, which included tactical training, began on Aug. 30 and featured JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331), and U.S. Navy destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) and replenishment ships USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) and USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204).

Izumo and Takanami form the first surface unit of the JMSDF’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22), a a four-month deployment throughout the Indo-Pacific region from June 13 to Oct. 28.
“Through increased practical exercise, we improved tactical capabilities and interoperability between the JMSDF, the U.S. Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, and we promoted cooperative relationship of Japan-U.S.-Canadian naval forces in order to realize a Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata, the commander of the first surface unit, said in the news release.

Vancouver together with sister ship HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) are on a deployment to the region following their participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise, which ended on Aug. 4. Winnipeg is now conducting Operation Projection, in which the Canadian Armed Forces conduct port visits, training, exercises and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners in the region. Winnipeg is currently in Singapore, having docked there on Tuesday for a week-long port call and maintenance. Meanwhile, Vancouver is conducting both Operation Projection and Operation Neon – Canada’s contribution to a coordinated multinational effort to support United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed on North Korea. Canada’s participation includes surveillance and monitoring any ships that break the U.N. sanctions.

In other developments, amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is now back operating in the South China Sea, according to U.S. Defense Department imagery. Tripoli is scheduled to take part in an amphibious exercise in Japan with the JMSDF from Sept. 16-19, according to a Thursday news release from the JMSDF. The JMSDF and U.S. Navy will conduct a bilateral exercise in the waters around Japan and at the Numazu Beach training area, Honshu, the release said. The exercise participants will include Tripoli, landing ship dock USS Rushmore (LSD-47) and landing ship tank JS Osumi (LST-4001). The drills will involve both a beaching exercise and a search and rescue exercise.

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) launches from amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA 7) in the South China Sea on Sept. 5, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

On Friday, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense issued a news release detailing the sighting of a Russian destroyer in the Sea of Japan on Thursday at 11 a.m. local time. The hull number and image provided corresponds to destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543). The destroyer then sailed east through La Pérouse Strait on Friday, according to the release, which said JMSDF fast attack craft JS Kumataka (PG-827) and JMSDF P-3C Orions Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 2 stationed at JMSDF Hachinohe Air Base, Honshu shadowed the Russian ship.

Meanwhile, Littoral Combat Ships USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Oakland (LCS-24) have been in the Oceania region throughout August with embarked U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Tactical Law Enforcement Team detachments, according to a U.S. Pacific Fleet news release. The ships and detachments are performing “maritime law enforcement operations in support of U.S. and Pacific Island nations fisheries laws.”

The deployments are part of the Oceania Maritime Support Initiative (OMSI), an effort led by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to better maritime security in the region.

“The joint Navy and Coast Guard OMSI mission capitalizes on the agility and mission adaptability LCS was designed for,” Cmdr. Derek Jaskowiak, the commanding officer of Oakland, said in the release. “It is our privilege to support our partner nations through presence in Oceania and to ensure continued security, stability, and prosperity throughout the region”.

Oakland finished its OMSI patrol in late August and Jackson will remain on station for the rest of this month. Jackson has been deployed in the Indo-Pacific region since July 2021, while Oakland only recently deployed this August, replacing USS Tulsa (LCS-16). Tulsa returned to San Diego on July 30. The third LCS in the Indo-Pacific, USS Charleston (LCS-18) – which arrived in the region in May last year – was in Singapore on Sept. 2 and hosted the change of command ceremony for Destroyer Squadron 7 (DESRON7).

The U.S. Navy this week announced that a destroyer and a submarine have recently returned home from deployments to the Indo-Pacific. On Tuesday, the service announced the return of destroyer USS Momsen (DDG-92) to its homeport of Naval Station Everett Washington following a seven-month deployment to U.S. 3rd, 5th, and 7th Fleets.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92), assigned to Carrier Strike Group Three, arrives in Naval Station Everett, Washington, Sept. 6, following a seven-month deployment to the U.S. 3rd, 5th and 7th Fleets in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific. U.S. Navy Photo

Momsen conducted independent operations in and around the South China Sea, participating in cooperative deployments strengthening relationships with partnering allies. These efforts included a bi-lateral exercises focused on increasing interoperability with the Indian Navy’s guided-missile frigate INS Trishul (F 43),” PACFLEET said in the release.

While operating in 5th Fleet, Momsen took part in Iron Defender 2022, an exercise that takes place each year between the United Arab Emirates and U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

“While operating in support of Combined Task Force (CTF) 150 counter-narcotics operations, Momsen worked in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, seizing 640 kilograms of methamphetamine worth $39 million from a fishing vessel while patrolling international waters in the Gulf of Oman,” the release reads.

On Thursday, the Navy announced that submarine USS Scranton (SSN-756) returned to Naval Base Point Loma, San Diego on Wednesday following a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

“Our time on deployment proved the submarine force is the most flexible deterrent available to our strategic planners against near peer competitors,” Cmdr. Michael McGuire, Scranton’s commanding officer, said in the news release, “Scranton benefited greatly from the adaptive planning based on the dynamic operations in 7th Fleet. I can say without a doubt that the officers, chiefs and ship’s crew are better prepared to continue to defend our great nation.”

Scranton traveled about 50,000 nautical miles while out on the deployment and stopped in Yokosuka, Okinawa and Guam, according to the release.

2022 Defense of Japan Report

The following is the Japanese Ministry of Defense 2022 White Paper Defense of Japan released this week. From the report The international community is currently facing its greatest trial since WWII. It is not an exaggeration to say that we have entered a new period of crisis in the twenty-first century. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine […]

The following is the Japanese Ministry of Defense 2022 White Paper Defense of Japan released this week.

From the report

The international community is currently facing its greatest trial since WWII. It is not an exaggeration to say that we have entered a new period of crisis in the twenty-first century. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shocked the world, with the loss of countless innocent civilians’ lives giving rise to deep indignation and grief. Such unilateral changes to the status quo by force should never be tolerated, as they shake the very foundation of the international order based on universal values that has supported the peace and prosperity of the international community.

This defiance of international order is not just Europe’s problem. As strategic competition between nations becomes more apparent against the backdrop of changes to the global power balance, the existing order is being exposed to serious challenges, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, which is at the center of this competition.

In particular, China continues to unilaterally change or attempt to change the status quo by coercion in the East China Sea and South China Sea. The country’s ties with Russia, an aggressor nation, have deepened in recent years, with joint navigations and flights being conducted in the areas surrounding Japan by both Chinese and Russian vessels and aircraft. Furthermore, China has made clear that it would not hesitate to unify Taiwan by force, further increasing tensions in the region.

North Korea has repeatedly carried out ballistic missile launches well into 2022, thereby unilaterally escalating its provocations towards the international community. It has also defended Russia in respect of the latter’s aggression against Ukraine, asserting that the fault for this situation lies with the United States and other Western countries.

Fortunately, Japan has many likeminded partners. In the face of unprecedented challenges, the ties between the partners are further strengthened. Among these, the bond of the Japan–U.S. Alliance remains unshakeable, and trilateral cooperation among Japan, the U.S., and Australia, and quadrilateral cooperation among Japan, the U.S., Australia, and India, are further deepening. Also, as symbolized by vessels making port calls to Japan one after another last year, Japan continues to work together with European nations to ensure that the region is free and open.

As a way of defending against any such changes to the international order based on universal values, Japan must not delay in bringing together its knowledge and technology and putting all its collective efforts into strengthening its national defense capabilities.

Japan is currently working on drawing up a new National Security Strategy, etc. under the order of Prime Minister Kishida, and the Government will establish these new strategies boldly and creatively, thinking flexibly beyond existing paradigms in order to preemptively deter changes to the status quo by force and to also be fully prepared for modern warfare, including information warfare and cyber warfare, both seen during Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Right now, a large gray cloud hangs over the path towards world peace and security, and the outlook is seemingly obscure. However, one thing for certain is that creating the international order of tomorrow rests on the choices and actions of the people of today. Standing firm in its policies as a peace-loving nation, Japan resolutely continues to oppose any parties who attempt to forcibly change the world order. Japan also intends to continue demonstrating the strength of freedom and democracy and the significance of human rights and laws to the world through its unwavering conviction and tireless efforts.

To constantly defend Japan in a resolute manner and ensure continued regional and international peace and prosperity, as well as international order based on universal values, which has come to support this peace and prosperity thus far, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will continue to decisively deal with any and all difficulties to push through this time of trial.

We hope that this white paper clearly explains to Japanese and international readers that the MOD and the SDF have the will and capability to achieve the above, in addition to helping further increase understanding of the environment surrounding Japan and the efforts of the MOD and the SDF.

Minister of Defense
Kishi Nobuo

Download the document here.

14 Russian Warships Enter Sea of Japan Ahead of Major Military Exercises

A group of 14 Russian Navy ships transited through La Pérouse Strait from the Western Pacific Ocean into the Sea of Japan ahead of Russian military drills scheduled to start next week, the Japan Ministry of Defense said on Monday. On Saturday, four Russian ships were sighted sailing westwards in an area 161 miles east-northeast […]

Japanese MoD Images

A group of 14 Russian Navy ships transited through La Pérouse Strait from the Western Pacific Ocean into the Sea of Japan ahead of Russian military drills scheduled to start next week, the Japan Ministry of Defense said on Monday.

On Saturday, four Russian ships were sighted sailing westwards in an area 161 miles east-northeast of La Pérouse Strait. The release form the MoD identified the ship as destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvettes RFS Gremyashchiy (337), RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339). On Sunday, ten more Russian ships were sighted sailing westwards in an area 50 miles east-northeast of La Pérouse Strait. Those ships included corvettes RFS Metel (323), RFS MPK-221 (354), RFS R-14 (924), RFS R-18 (937), RFS R-11 (940) and RFS R-19 (978), missile range instrumentation ship RFS Marshal Krylov (331), a Dubna class replenishment ship, hospital ship Irtysh and a Sliva class tug.

The ships subsequently sailed west into the Sea of Japan trailed by the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft JS Kumataka (PG-827) and P-3C Orions Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 2 station at JMSDF Hachinohe Air Base, Honshu.

La Pérouse Strait is an international waterway which divides the Russian island of Sakhalin and Japan’s island of Hokkaido. The strait is routinely transited by Russian Pacific Fleet ships moving between the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk as both seas form part of the fleet operational areas. Japan monitors closely the activities of Russian and Chinese naval vessels nearby. Japan’s then Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said in June that the actions of Russian and Chinese navy surface action groups operating around Japan in that month were designed to unnerve Tokyo.

All 14 Russian ships are assigned to Russia’s Pacific Fleet and likely are heading to take part in the Vostok-2022 strategic military exercise that will run from Aug. 30 to Sept. 5. On July 28, Japan it asked Russia to not to conduct the drills in the four southern Kuril Islands claimed by Japan and occupied by Russia. China announced earlier this month it would participate in the Russian exercise alongside India, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Mongolia.

“The Chinese military’s participation in the exercise is unrelated to the current international and regional situation, but designed to deepen practical and friendly cooperation with the militaries of participating countries, enhance the level of strategic coordination and strengthen the ability to cope with various security threats,” the Aug. 17 release said.

On Monday, the JSO said on Sunday, the Russian corvette RFS Gromkiy (335) was sighted sailing eastward approximately 168 miles west of Fukue Island and then sailed north through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan. Fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and a JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 4 stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu monitored the Russian corvette and reported the ship had been sighted sailing southwest through the Tsushima Strait on August 12. Gromkiy had sailed to Qingdao in China to take part in the Sea Cup competition which began from Aug. 17 and concluded on Sunday. The Sea Cup is a competition among surface ships and part of the Russian organized International Army Games 2022 which concludes on Aug. 26.

U.S. Joins South Korea, Australia, Japan, Canada for Missile Defense Exercise Following RIMPAC

Naval forces for the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and Canada wrapped up the Pacific Dragon 2022 exercise on Monday. The biennial multinational air and missile defense drills began on Aug. 5 in Hawaii at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (PMRF) and off the coast of Kauai. This was the […]

Multinational ships sail in formation during Pacific Dragon 2022, Aug. 12. U.S. Navy Photo

Naval forces for the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and Canada wrapped up the Pacific Dragon 2022 exercise on Monday.

The biennial multinational air and missile defense drills began on Aug. 5 in Hawaii at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands (PMRF) and off the coast of Kauai.

This was the first time Australia and Canada took part in the exercises, as previous iterations only included the U.S., Japan and the Republic of Korea.

“PD22 was the first iteration of exercise Pacific Dragon that included a live fire intercept of a short range ballistic missile using a Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) Block IA,” according to a Monday news release from U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Sydney (DDG42) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195), Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Haguro (DDG-180), Republic of Korea Navy destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991), and U.S. Navy destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) participated in the exercise. A U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet also took part in the drills, according to a JMSDF news release.

Supply, Vancouver, Sejong the Great, Fitzgerald and William P. Lawrence all participated in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2022, which concluded on Aug. 4, with the remaining ships deploying to Hawaii for Pacific Dragon.

Vancouver deployed with frigate HCMS Winnipeg (FFH338) for RIMPAC. Winnipeg is now heading to the Indo-Pacific to conduct Operation Projection, where the Canadian Armed Forces conduct port visits and training, exercises and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners in the region.

Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) transits the Pacific Ocean on July 27 during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

Vancouver will also take part in Operation Projection and Operation Neon – Canada’s contribution to a coordinated multinational effort to support United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed on North Korea. Canada’s participation includes surveillance and monitoring any ships that break the U.N. sanctions.

Meanwhile, from Aug. 8-14, Japan, the U.S. and the Republic of Korea carried out a datalink sharing training for missile warning and ballistic missile detection and tracking concurrently with Pacific Dragon, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said in a Tuesday press conference. Hamada said the Japan-U.S.-ROK agreed to conduct this training during the June 11 Defense Ministerial Meeting in Singapore.

The Ministry of Defense and the Japanese Self-Defense Force wants to continue deepening the trilateral cooperation, Hamada said. The U.S., Japan, and South Korea “shared tactical data link information in accordance with a trilateral information sharing agreement,” according to a Monday news release from the Pentagon.

Referencing a phone call today with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Hamada said they both strongly condemned China’s ballistic missile launch that took place earlier this month and that the U.S. and Japan would work on close and seamless cooperation to respond to any situation in the region. In light of the current situation in North Korea, Hamada said he and Austin both emphasized the importance of Japan-U.S.-ROK defense cooperation.

The two defense chiefs also agreed to coordinate their strategies and that both countries will also continue to cooperate closely for the steady progress of the U.S. effort to realign its forces in the region. “Going forward, I would like to work with Secretary Austin to strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance, and to maintain and strengthen a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Hamada said.

Meanwhile, the second surface unit of the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22 deployment), destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), is currently operating around Fiji after drilling with Republic of Fiji Navy patrol craft RFNS Kikau (202) and making a port call in Suva, Fiji, on Monday.

United Kingdom Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel HMS Spey (P234) is also operating near Fiji and assisting the island nation with exclusive economic zone patrolling against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IIU) fishing. Royal New Zealand Navy offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington (P55) is also helping Fiji conduct similar patrols in the nearby Pacific islands.

IIU fishing has been a major problem for the small Pacific Islands, which lack naval and maritime enforcement patrol assets. Several Western nations are assisting them by deploying their own assets to the area.

The U.S Coast Guard is now participating with partners to support the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency-led (FFA) Operation Island Chief and the larger Operation Blue Pacific through patrols in the Western Pacific in August and September, according to a Monday news release from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

“The operation covers a substantial area of the Pacific on the high seas and the exclusive economic zones of the Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, and the Solomon Islands, while renewing relationships bolstered by local knowledge and expertise,” the news release reads.

Fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC-1140) will stop in Manus, Papua New Guinea, for the first port visit during the operation.

“During the patrol, the cutter will also have aerial support from a forward deployed HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and New Zealand Defence Force P3 Orion airplane crew,” according to the release.

Japan’s New Defense Minister Looking to Improve Country’s Defense Posture Amid Chinese Aggression

As Japan’s new defense chief, Yasukazu Hamada plans to improve Japan’s defense posture and capabilities, he said Wednesday. The Chinese military’s recent activities, combined with their lack of transparency regarding national defense policies and military capabilities, have become a major security concern for Japan, countries in the region and the international community, Hamada said. The first task […]

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH 183) and U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) sail in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28. US Navy Photo

As Japan’s new defense chief, Yasukazu Hamada plans to improve Japan’s defense posture and capabilities, he said Wednesday.

The Chinese military’s recent activities, combined with their lack of transparency regarding national defense policies and military capabilities, have become a major security concern for Japan, countries in the region and the international community, Hamada said.

The first task for the defense minister, on the list given to him by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is to ensure that the Defense Ministry implements national security policies in a more strategic and systematic manner under the National Security Council and in cooperation with relevant ministers, Hamada said during his inaugural press conference at the Ministry of Defense.

“With regard to the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Program Guidelines, and the Mid-Term Defense Buildup Plan, which are the foundations of the plan, we will work together with the relevant ministers to revise them in light of the severe security environment surrounding our country, and drastically improve our defense capabilities within five years,” Hamada said.

All options are under consideration, including “counterattack capabilities,” which has been controversial due to Japan’s longstanding policy of only having defensive military capabilities, Hamada said. By the end of the year, the Ministry of Defense will finish assessing actions it could take to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities.

Other focus areas for the MoD include securing its munitions and ammunition supply, research and development of military technology, strengthening the defense production and technological base and addressing public concerns on the reorganization and activities of U.S military forces in Japan.

Japan will further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-United States alliance by expanding and deepening security and defense cooperation between the two countries, Hamada said, adding the need stems from the increasing severity of the regional security situation.

With the Japan-U.S. Alliance as the cornerstone, the Japanese military will carry out joint training and equipment/technical cooperation with Australia, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Europe, Pacific island countries and others to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” Hamada said.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Asagiri-class destroyer JS Yamagiri (DD 152), left, JMSDF Asahi-class destroyer JS Asahi (DD 119), and JMSDF Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116) sail in formation during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), Nov. 21. U.S. Navy Photo

The Japanese defense minister said there is no change to Japan’s policy that the Taiwan issue should get resolved through peaceful dialogue. But he acknowledged that in recent years, as China has rapidly strengthened its military power, the military balance between China and Taiwan has changed in a direction more favorable to China with the gap widening each year.

China’s military activities are concerning on the regional and international front, Hamada said. Japan will continue monitoring and surveilling Chinese military activities, and take all measures to prepare to respond to developments in regard to the Taiwan issue.

Military strength is concentrated in the vicinity of Japan, with neighboring countries like China strengthening their military power and intensifying their military activities, Hamada said. This is an urgent issue for Japan, particularly with the Chinese military recently conducting large-scale military exercises around Taiwan, and launching ballistic missiles in training waters set up near Japan.

In line with the goal of strengthening defense in the southwest region, Japan has so far deployed units to Yonaguni Island, Amami Oshima Island, and Miyako Island, and will also deploy units to Ishigaki Island within this fiscal year. Four anti-aircraft units operating the Patriot system have been deployed to the southwest region, mainly in Naha, to respond to various airborne threats, including ballistic missiles, said Hamada.

This is Hamada’s second time in the defense minister position, as he previously served as from September 2008 to September 2009. He replaced Nobuo Kishi this week due to Kishi’s undisclosed health condition – which saw him confined to a wheelchair – and the controversies surrounding the links between Kishi and other Japanese politicians, including his late brother, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and political funding support from the Unification Church. Abe’s assassination reportedly highlighted ties between Japanese politicians and the Unification Church. Kishi was appointed as an adviser to Prime Minister Kishida.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) mission continues steadily with a flurry of activities.

The first surface unit of IPD22, which includes helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), conducted a number of exercises after completing its participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise and its departure from Hawaii. On Aug. 5, Izumo conducted a goodwill exercise with the Mexican Navy contingent participating in RIMPAC, frigate ARM Juárez (POLA-101) and landing ship tank ARM Usumacinta (A412), while Takanami performed a goodwill exercise with Chilean Navy frigate Almirante Lynch (FF07) the same day.

On Sunday, both Japanese ships then conducted replenishment exercises with replenishment ship USNS Pecos (T-AO‑197), followed by a Tuesday exercise with Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) and Royal New Zealand Navy replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoak. Both the Canadian frigate and New Zealand replenishment ship also participated in RIMPAC. Winnipeg deployed with frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) for RIMPAC, and both Canadian ships are now headed west to the Indo-Pacific for separate deployments to the region.

The second surface unit of the IPD22 deployment, destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), is currently operating in the Pacific Islands. On Monday, Kirisame conducted a Japan-U.S.-Solomon Islands goodwill exercise with Royal Solomon Island Police Force patrol boat RSIPV Taro (06) and Littoral Combat Ship USS Oakland (LCS-24). A Japan-U.S. bilateral exercise with Oakland also took place in the vicinity of Solomon Islands. Kirisame arrived in Vanatu on Thursday for a port visit.

United Kingdom Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Spey (P234), currently in Fiji, is conducting various taskings in the region, including assisting Pacific Islands nations in countering illegal fishing and criminal activities.

Spey’s sister ship, HMS Tamar (P233), is operating in the South China Sea, after making a port visit to Manila on Wednesday. Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth (FFH157) is also in the South China Sea having after docking on Tuesday at Royal Malaysian Navy base Kota Kinabalu.

Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Sydney (DDG42) is also in the region, while the RAN RIMPAC contingent that includes landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02), frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195) are now heading back to the Indo-Pacific.

McMaster: Taiwan Could Prove Difficult for China to Invade

Despite China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster argued this week that Taiwan “not an easy military problem” for Beijing to solve. Speaking during a Hudson Institute online forum on Thursday, the retired Army lieutenant general added that Taipei could be difficult to attack across the 100-mile wide, often stormy Taiwan […]

Despite China’s recent aggression toward Taiwan, former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster argued this week that Taiwan “not an easy military problem” for Beijing to solve.

Speaking during a Hudson Institute online forum on Thursday, the retired Army lieutenant general added that Taipei could be difficult to attack across the 100-mile wide, often stormy Taiwan Strait. It’s a matter of “capability and will.”

To protest House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) 19-hour visit this week to the self-governing island, Beijing fired missiles into Japanese waters, sent military aircraft into Taipei’s air defense identification zone and conducted large-scale live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

But all these escalating military moves from the People’s Republic of China is a “signal to the world” that Beijing could blockade or invade Taiwan, said Patrick Cronin, Hudson’s Asia-Pacific chair. He mentioned threats by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Pelosi’s visit could lead to a slippery slope of conflict as a means of intimidating other nations.

Wang, speaking at an Association of South East Asians Nations event on Wednesday, termed Pelosi’s visit “manic, irresponsible and highly irrational.”

McMaster said he hopes that the Chinese actions give the United States a “sense of urgency when it comes to Taiwan’s future and how important the Indo-Pacific is to the United States militarily and economically.

Steps that Taiwan can take – like lengthening the time Taiwanese conscripted reservists spend on active duty, creating a territorial defense force and improving joint training for active and reserve forces – would improve Taiwan’s deterrence by denial, McMaster said.

Two years ago, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said her administration increased defense spending to 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product and was very interested in buying asymmetric defense systems ranging from mines to anti-ship missiles, as well as modernizing force structure. In the past, Taiwan had looked to the U.S. for big-ticket items like fighter aircraft to block Chinese ambitions. Its parliament approved a special $8.6 billion appropriation earlier this year in the face of Chinese naval and air incursions during the winter.

Rebeccah Heinrichs, a senior fellow at Hudson, said the time for Taipei to spend on military equipment and receive it is now. It would be far more difficult to supply Taiwan if the Chinese invaded the island, as it has been to come to Ukraine’s aid using highways and rail following the Russian invasion earlier this year, she said.

So far, McMaster has been encouraged by “Taiwan’s will” in resisting escalating pressures of a possible blockade of the island. He added that such a blockade would disrupt not only the island’s economy but also global trade in the Indo-Pacific. McMaster said a key Chinese objective is to isolate Japan from its allies and partners, which could happen under a Beijing-controlled Taiwan.

“Japan has been a real source of strength” in standing up to China over Taiwan’s future, he said. McMaster said nations in ASEAN could learn from Tokyo’s example. “The choice they’re facing is sovereignty or servitude” if they accept China as the final arbiter regionally.

Not surprisingly, “Russia has come to China’s position in this” escalation of tensions, Heinrichs added.

McMaster compared it to the 1930s, “almost like Hitler’s playbook” of authoritarian coercion in Europe and the Pacific. He said Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin believe that together “we will rewrite the rules” because the U.S. and its allies are weak.

For the U.S. and its allies, “it is a period of trial … to maintain resolve” as they are showing in Ukraine, he said.

Heinrichs added that Pelosi’s visit should be a “reassurance to allies” of America’s commitment to the Indo-Pacific. She added that Taipei welcomed the speaker “with open arms” and a bipartisan Congress at home supported her visit. Newt Gingrich visited Taiwan when he was speaker in the late 1990s.

The Trump Administration opened the door for more high-level U.S. official visits to Taiwan after decades following U.S. recognition of the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s.

She added that the speaker’s stopover was not the rejection of the United States’ “One China Policy,” as Beijing claimed.

“The Biden administration must embrace this visit” and “make sure there is no appearance of daylight” between the speaker and the White House and Pentagon, she said. Earlier, President Joe Biden warned of consequences that might arise over such a visit.

Heinrichs said Pelosi “holds a critical office” and showed courage in visiting Taiwan that can help Americans understand what is at stake in the Indo-Pacific for democracy and the world’s economy.

Chinese UAV Lingered Off Taiwan’s Coast Ahead of Island’s Annual Exercise

A Chinese unmanned air vehicle flew through the Miyako Strait of Japan before lingering off Taiwan’s west coast on Monday. The UAV approached the island as Taiwan began its annual Han Kuang military exercise, the nation’s largest military exercise that is geared towards countering an invasion of Taiwan. A Chinese TB-001 UAV flew in from […]

Chinese TB-001 UAV. Photo Courtesy of Japanese Ministry of Defense

A Chinese unmanned air vehicle flew through the Miyako Strait of Japan before lingering off Taiwan’s west coast on Monday.

The UAV approached the island as Taiwan began its annual Han Kuang military exercise, the nation’s largest military exercise that is geared towards countering an invasion of Taiwan.

A Chinese TB-001 UAV flew in from the East China Sea, passed through the Miyako Strait and then went by the Sakishima islands as it turned toward Taiwan. It subsequently went south to the Bashi Channel, according to a Monday news release from the the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of Japan’s Defense Ministry.

The release stated that fighters of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Southwestern Air Defense Force were scrambled in response to the UAV’s flight around Japan. The release did not elaborate on the further movements of the UAV, but it’s possible the UAV passed through the Bashi Channel and returned to China from there. The TB-001 has a range of around 3,000 miles and an endurance of 35 hours.

Taiwan on Monday began its nationwide Han Kuang exercise, which takes place over five days and simulates repelling an invasion of the island. On Tuesday over 20 of Tawain’s warships carried out firing exercises off the island’s northeast coast, simulating the repulse of a seaborne invasion.

The UAV’s flight is the latest Chinese platform to cause Japan concern. Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi highlighted the threats to Japan from China, as well as North Korea and Russia, in a Friday white paper.

Flight path of Chinese TB-001 UAV. Photo Courtesy of Japanese Ministry of Defense.

On Tuesday, a Chinese Ministry of Defense spokesperson criticized the defense white paper and said it made irresponsible remarks about China’s national defense, military development and normal military activities.

“It deliberately exaggerates the so-called ‘China military threat,’ grossly interferes in China’s internal affairs, and creates tensions in the situation in the region,” said Senior Colonel Wu Qian, director of the Ministry of National Defense Information Office.

Wu added that China expressed strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the content in the white paper and lodged its representations to Japan on it.

Wu spoke in response to a media question during a press conference at the Ministry of National Defense, where he was asked to comment on the white paper. Wu said that the Taiwan issue is purely China’s internal affairs, and no foreign interference was allowed.

He added that the Diaoyu Islands – China’s name for the Senkaku Islands administered by Japan – and their affiliated islands are China’s inherent territory.

“China’s patrols in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands are legitimate and lawful, and the Japanese side has no right to make irresponsible remarks,” Wu said. “China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and their adjacent waters, and has always respected and safeguarded the freedom of navigation and overflight enjoyed by all countries in the South China Sea in accordance with international law. Japan is not a party to the South China Sea issue.”

Japan along with the United States, is sowing discord and stirring up trouble on the South China Sea issue, he added.

The Chinese military has the determination, capability and confidence to safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, as well as national maritime rights and interests, and maintain regional peace and stability, Wu said.

“We urge the Japanese side to face up to and reflect on its history of aggression, stop using the pretense of being a victim to confuse international audiences, stop its erroneous words and deeds on relevant issues, and earnestly win the trust of its Asian neighbors and the international community with a responsible attitude and practical actions,” he said.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force also issued several releases in regard to its activities with the U.S military.

The JMSDF issued a Monday news release stating that JS Kirisame (DD-104), which is the second surface force of the JMSDF Indo-Pacific 2022 Deployment (IPD22), carried out tactical training and replenishment exercises in the Pacific Ocean from Saturday to Sunday with U.S. Lttoral Combat Ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) and dry cargo ship USNS Carl Brashear (T-AKE-7). IPD 22 is a more than four-month deployment throughout the Indo-Pacific region from June 13 until Oct. 28 and is comprised of two surface forces supported by a submarine and a P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) at some of its engagements.

The first surface force, comprised of helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), are currently in Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise.

On Monday, destroyer JS Yamagiri (DD-152) and two U.S. Army UH-60L helicopters in Sagami Bay, Honshu, carried out deck landing, take-off and familiarization exercises, according to a Monday JMSDF release.

A second Tuesday news release stated that on Monday, the JMSDF conducted air defense and electronic warfare training with U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers in the Pacific Ocean around Japan.

The JMSDF ships that took part in the exercise were helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH-181), destroyers JS Inazuma (DD-105), JS Makinami (DD-112), JS Yugiri (DD-153) and JS Kirishima (DDG-174), while JMSDF aircraft consisted of a P-1 MPA, a EP-3 Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) aircraft, a OP-3C reconnaissance aircraft and two UP-3D ELINT training aircraft.

A third news release announced that from Aug. 4 to Sept. 11, JMSDF submarine JS Takashio (SS-597) will train with the U.S. Navy in the sea areas around Japan to Guam. This was the first U.S. dispatch submarine training for Japan’s 4th Reiwa calendar year, or 2022, and the 83rd dispatch since it began in 1963, according to the release.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday U.S. Navy Submarine Group 7 announced in a release that it had conducted the sixth Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Laut (TNI-AL)/U.S. Navy Submarine Force Staff Talks from July 21 through 22, while aboard submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS-40) when Frank Cable was docked in Jakarta, Indonesia.

“I’m thrilled to be able to visit Jakarta and conduct these submarine staff talks with our Indonesian partners in person once again,” Rear Adm. Rick Seif, the commander of Submarine Group 7, said in the release. “The U.S.-Indonesia partnership has never been stronger or more comprehensive than it is today.”

“Working together during these staff talks allows both of our submarine forces to learn from one another, helping us both contribute to our shared goal of maintaining regional stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” he added.

During the staff talks, personnel from both nations led discussions on safe submarine operations, according to the release. There were specific exchanges held on the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Safety Program (SUBSAFE), submarine maintenance, and submarine navigation.

The two days of events ended with Seif and First Adm. Indra Agus Wijaya, the commander of Submarine Operation, Indonesian Fleet, signing off on the goals and action items. Both leaders pledged to continue to work together on relationship building and interoperability between the two submarine forces. This was the first time the two navies had held submarine staff talks in person since 2018. Last year’s event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, in New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Navy dive and survey vessel HMNZS Manawanui (A09) and offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington (P55) left Auckland for a four-month deployment called Operation Mahi Tahi to the Pacific Islands.

In a Facebook post, the RNZN stated that “the four-month-long operation will see the New Zealand Defence Force, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Ministry for Primary Industries partnering with Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to provide maritime security patrols, detection and deterrence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, reconnaissance of explosive remnants of war, training and capacity building, Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief planning, and Pacific Defence Gender Network training.”