Aircrews from the “Warlords” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51 and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) “Mighty 59” of Air Development Squadron (VX) 51 conducted bi-lateral exercises, Sept. 14. An MH-60R Seahawk assigned to HSM-51 and an SH-60K assigned to VX-51 conducted a bilateral squadron Tactical Formation (TACFORM) flight, and a dual helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) tracking exercise. This was the first of its kind bi-lateral ASW event between HSM-51 and VX-51 have ever flown together.
“We were able to improve our joint operational skills through this event.” Said Lt. j.g. Jumpei Yoshimura, a VX-51 pilot. “We are looking forward to flying the next event with the U.S. Navy.”
“The exercise that we conducted with JMSDF demonstrated that we are fully capable of integration between our two nations. I believe this sets us up for an increase in lethality and prepares us to face any future challenges our two countries may face together,” said Lt. Kris Appel, an HSM-51 pilot.
The cooperative flight was flown over the Philippine Sea off the coast of Japan. The two squadrons practiced safety of flight formation maneuvers and ASW tactics. The exercises promoted increased collaboration between Commander, 7th Fleet assets and their JMSDF hosts. HSM-51 is forward-deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi and embarks aboard multiple ships in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet Area of Operations. VX-51 is a squadron in the Fleet Air Force of the JMSDF based in Atsugi, Japan.
U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict. It is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with 60 to 70 ships, 300 aircraft and 40,000 Navy, Marine Corps personnel, and Coast Guard support personnel. Its principal responsibilities are to provide joint command in natural disaster or military operations and operational command of all US naval forces in the region.