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Japan, US hone combined naval expeditionary capabilities at Exercise ‘Noble Fusion'

Ships from America and Essex Amphibious Ready Groups, and Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, sail in formation with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force during Exercise ‘Noble Fusion'. (US Navy)

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has concluded a series of naval drills that hones its ability to conduct combined expeditionary operations, with elements from the US Navy (USN), US Marine Corps (USMC), and US Air Force (USAF).

The drills, which have been dubbed Exercise ‘Noble Fusion', were conducted in the Philippine Sea from 3 to 7 February.

As part of the exercise, the JMSDF's lead Kongo-class guided-missile destroyer JS Kongo (DDG 173) operated along the USN's lead America-class amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), the second Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), and the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group. USS America and Essex are also accompanied by their respective amphibious ready groups (ARGs).

As part of the drills, Kongo provided command-and-control support for maritime strike segments of the exercise that took place against simulated surface targets in the First Island Chain, said the US Pacific Fleet in a statement on the activity.

Images released by the USN after the activity indicate that America hosted at least two of Japan's Kawasaki (Boeing) CH-47 Chinook helicopters during the exercise.

Other aircraft types that took part in the drills include AV-8B Harriers and MV-22B Ospreys of the USMC's 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and F-35C Lightning IIs from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 314.

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