Aircrews from the “Saberhawks” of the US Navy Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 carried out anti-submarine warfare (ASW) torpedo training in Sagami Bay, Japan, earlier this month.
This training was the second time the US Navy launched an inert training torpedo with JMSDF into Japanese waters.
Prior to last year’s event, every torpedo exercise conducted by a forward-deployed squadron was conducted in San Diego. The US Navy explained 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 the US Navy and JMSDF.
The service said the aim was for this exercise to continue an annual event.
“HSM-77 is proud to take part in high-end warfighting integration efforts with our JMSDF counterparts,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Hodina, HSM 77 operations officer. “These exercises allow us to improve our coordinated-ASW proficiency and enhance joint-warfighting capabilities.”
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 Futami-class research ship JS Wakasa (AGS 5104). An SH-60K, assigned to JMSDF Air Development Squadron (VX-51), provided range clearance and translated the communications.
HSM-77 is forward-deployed to Naval Air Facility Atsugi and embarks aboard multiple ships in the 7th Fleet area of operations.
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.
US 7th Fleet exercises operational control of its units through designated Task Forces or Task Groups. These groups are organized along domain and functional lines. Forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet, CTF 70 is theater strike warfare commander and theater air and missile defense commander.