US, JMSDF conduct torpedo training exercise in Japanese waters

Aircrews from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77, HSM 51, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) of Air Development Squadron (VX) 51 conducted anti-submarine warfare (ASW) torpedo training in Tokyo Bay from 8-10 March.

As disclosed, this training was the first time the US Navy launched an inert training torpedo with JMSDF into Japanese waters, which was subsequently recovered by JMSDF Utility Landing Ship JS Yusotei 2-go (LCU 2002).

Prior to this event, every torpedo exercise conducted by a forward-deployed squadron was conducted in San Diego.

The exercise involved an inert torpedo being launched from an MH-60R Seahawk attached to HSM-77. The torpedo was recovered by a small boat team from the JMSDF Utility Landing Ship JS LCU 2002. An SH-60K assigned to VX-51 provided air support for the small boat team.

The navy officials noted that the benefit of this particular ASW exercise is that the forward-deployed squadron was able to practice within the region they operate in, while also strengthening bilateral capabilities between US Navy and JMSDF.

“This is the first step in an effort that started with the establishment of the first FDNF squadron, ‘The Warlords’, back in 1991,” said Cmdr. Nicholas Cunningham, HSM-77’s commanding officer.

“This exercise demonstrates the U.S. Navy’s and JMSDF’s continued partnership and commitment to protecting the waterways of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

HSM-77 and HSM-51 are forward-deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi and embark aboard multiple ships in the 7th Fleet area of operations. US 7th Fleet exercises operational control of its units through designated Task Forces or Task Groups.

These groups are organized along with domain and functional lines. CTF 70 is theater strike warfare commander and theater air and missile defense commander.

On the other hand, VX-51 is a squadron in the Fleet Air Force of the JMSDF based in Atsugi, Japan. This event builds on the first of its kind bilateral anti-submarine warfare tracking exercise that HSM-51 and VX-51 flew together in October.